Today’s topics
• Inventing alternative designs
• Creative problem solving tips
You should have completed your problem
statement and specifications by this time.
If you have finished, well done!
If you have not, you are probably
Questions about DP?
What you should be
working on next
• Develop three alternative designs for your design
• Write one page for each alternative. Include a
sketch of the concept and a list of strengths and
weaknesses for each alternative.
Please, use computers only
for our classwork, only.
Please turn off monitors now.
Quick review
Model of the Design Process
Define the problem
Specify product requirements
Invent alternatives
Evaluate the alternatives
Engineer the details / analyze performance
Test prototypes
Report complete product description
Design process
• Design benefits from a rational process
Design occurs in stages
Design is iterative
Stage 1: Define the problem
• Before you start a design always think
carefully about what is really the problem
• Context and constituency
Stage 2: Specifications
1. Describe what the design must accomplish,
but not how.
2. Be as quantitative as possible; be as
unambiguous as possible
Stage 3: Invent alternatives
• The next slide has the most important
advice I can give you about being a better
design engineer…
Stage 3: Invent alternatives
• Design rule-of-three: Always invent at
least 3 alternative designs for any
design or part of a design.
• For Monty Python fans, this rule can be
stated as…
Thou shalt always invent 3 alternatives
Thou shall not stop at 1 alternative
Neither shall thou invent 2 alternatives
unless proceeding to 3 alternatives
Example of alternative designs
• See example on next slides
• Notice format: sketch with a list of strengths
and weaknesses
(You will be asked to do this for your design
The design problem…
How to invent alternatives?
Use creative problem solving techniques
Try a morphological chart
Inventing alternative concepts puts a
premium on creativity!
Let’s spend some time talking
about creativity
Creative problem solving topics
• Why be creative?
• Why the smart kids aren’t as smart as they
think they are.
• Nine tips for enhancing your creativity, with
puzzle examples.
Why be creative?
More satisfying, more productive
Better solutions to life’s little problems
Better solutions to life’s bigger problems
Exercises a fundamental human passion
Smart = creative ?
• A highly intelligent person can construct a
case for any point of view; excludes
alternative considerations
• Verbal fluency is often mistaken for
thinking; intelligent person substitutes
• Ego based on intellect causes person to need
to always be right, clever, orthodox
Smart = creative ?
• Intelligence is used to be critical, rather than
being open to new ideas
• Intelligent people tend to jump to
• Highly intelligent people tend to confuse
understanding with quick thinking and
slowness with being dull-witted.
Smart = creative ?
• Conclusion: Be creative, not intelligent ??
• Don’t let your “smart ego” get in the way of
being creative
• You do not need to be the smartest person
in the room to be the most creative
Creativity enhancing tips
• Some illustrated by puzzles
First puzzle
• Using no more than 4 lines, pass though all
the dots without lifting your pencil.
Creativity lesson
• Don’t artificially restrict the problem
• Don’t stop with the first idea!
(Most important rule for design engineers)
Second puzzle
One morning, exactly at sunrise, a Buddhist monk began to
climb a tall mountain. A narrow path, no more than a foot
wide, spiraled around the mountain to a temple at the
summit. The monk ascended a varying rates of speed,
stopping many times along the way to rest and eat dried
fruit he carried with him. He reached the temple shortly
before sunset. After several days of fasting and
meditation, he began his journey back along the same
path, starting at sunrise and again walking at variable
speeds with pauses along the way. His average speed
descending was, of course, greater than his average
climbing speed. Prove that there is a point along the path
that the monk will occupy on both trips at precisely the
same time of day.
Creativity lesson
• Do use a variety of thinking “languages”
(verbal, visual, mathematical, musical…)
• Do seek analogies, imagery, playfulness
A steel pipe is embedded in a concrete floor. Six people are trapped
in the room. They want to extract the ping pong ball at the bottom
of the pipe without damaging the ball. How can this be done? The
room is bare except for a shelf that contains:
100’ rope
Claw hammer
Box of Wheaties
Coat hanger
Pipe wrench
Light bulb
Creativity lesson
• Don’t fear looking stupid or unconventional
Other creativity tips
• Do get as much information as is reasonably
“New information theorem”
• Adding one new piece of information
greatly improves the chance of coming up
with a creative solution.
Creativity tips, cont.
• Do let problems incubate
Requires “charging” first!
Creativity tips, cont.
• Do withhold judgment
• Do assume that creativity can be enhanced
with practice