2.009 Product Engineering Processes

Brainstorming

background, requirements, grading and submission

Background
The goal is to obtain hundreds of project idea/user-need/opportunity options within your team.

While this is the first deliverable in the process and we are just getting started, it is critical because your initial exploration and ideas are 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 clients at the idea fair. This idea generation process will ultimately lead to the concepts that your section proposes at the 3-ideas milestone.

Requirements
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 people in a number of different locations/situations. You might refer to slides with 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 may 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. In this case quantity really does matter, so having many more is much better. Make it a fun challenge for yourself to see how many ideas you can generate. Once you have reached your limit, 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 approach exists, please do not include the idea in your short list.

Refine your top 5 ideas:
Prepare a simple annotated sketch to explain each of the 5 ideas and the 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 design notebook. If you use sheets of paper you should tape them into your notebook. On each sheet include: the idea's name, the situation/observation that lead to the idea, the intended user, and the user need/value proposition it addresses.

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 (September 8).

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

Please make sure that your name is on each sketch, and that the intended user and need value proposition for each idea is clearly annotated.

Make photocopies of your final 5 sketches before the start of lab—the lab schedule is tight so there is not time to make copies during your team meeting. You should make two copies of each sketch before your lab/team meeting—one to give to your instructor for grading, and one for pinning up in lab.

One set of photocopies 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.

There is a copy machine in the 2.009 computer area within Pappalardo lab. You can also make copies at Copy Tech, which is directly across the hall from the lab.