2.009 Product Engineering Processes


background, requirements, grading and submission

The goal is to obtain hundreds of project idea options within your team.

While this is the first deliverable in the process, it is critical because your initial ideas form the foundation for your team's direction throughout the entire term! Shortcuts now really do lead to stress and disappointment later.

The ideas you generate will be pooled with ideas from your teammates, as well as those proposed by potential customers at the idea fair. This idea generation process leads to the concepts that your section will propose at the 3-ideas milestone.

Generate and select ideas:
Review the project theme description before you start. Spend some time thinking about types of general situations or places relevant to the theme. Go and observe users in a number of locations/situations. You might refer to slides that key points about how to approach observing users (pdf). If you want to observe in small groups of three it can be helpful (teams are not formed until the start of the second week of class so you could work with any classmates).

Once you have your observations, independently generate a list of wide-ranging ideas and simple 'doodle' sketches or annotations in your design notebook. Draw upon your observation notes and other life experiences. You may want to printout the creativity strategy cheat-sheet to help with the ideation.

You should come up with a minimum of 20 ideas—if you have many more you may have a pleasant surprise. Once you have a sufficient number of ideas, pick your top 5 using an idea selection method of your choice. All top 5 ideas that you choose should be ones that you would be happy pursuing over the rest of the term with your team.

Consider the thoughtfulness of the ideas and the breadth of what you are proposing—provide a range of project directions. Also, please be sure to do some preliminary research to help ensure that your top 5 ideas are technically feasible, and that something exactly like it is not already on the market. Minimally, you must perform a web search. If an identical product or better appriach exists, please do not propose the idea.

Refine your top 5 ideas:
Prepare a simple annotated sketch to explain each of the 5 ideas and the user observation/situation that motives each idea. The images on the right link to a small gallery of idea sketch examples. Each annotated idea sketch must be on a separate sheet of 8.5x11 paper, or use a full page in your notebook. If you use sheets of paper you should tape them into your notebook.

Please make sure that your 5 idea drawings are understandable from at least 10 feet—you will be pinning them up in your lab meeting. You might review the sketching tutorials or attend the sketching tutorial on Friday afternoon.

Grading and submission process
The brainstorming deliverable is a significant portion of the individual component of your final grade. The brainstorming deliverable is due at the start of your first lab, as indicated in the course schedule.

Photocopies of your sketches will be collected for grading at the end of your first lab. The list of ideas generated in your notebook will also be checked by your instructor during the first design notebook review. The thoughtfulness of your ideas, originality, diversity, and clarity of communication will be used as grading criteria.

Please review the detailed instructions on how to submit your brainstorming assignment.