Characterizing the role of modeling in innovation

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20 Scopus citations


Modeling is a core skill for engineering students and a pervasive feature of the engineering curriculum. Engineering students engage in modeling anytime they use an equation, flow chart, force diagram, or any other representation of some physical phenomena regardless of discipline. In this way modeling relates to both design process and analysis; however, students do not always recognize the full and nuanced ways that these two interact. This paper reports results from our research that is exploring the role that computational, analytical, and modeling abilities play in innovation, in the context of engineering design education. Our study reports results on faculty and students' conceptions on the role of modeling in design. Specifically, our study sheds light on the variationsin how faculty and students describe howto model a design idea or solution, and the different ways each group perceives how models can be useful/helpful in the design process. Our findings indicate that students recognize the descriptive value of physical models but mention the more abstract mathematical or predictive nature of modeling less often. In addition, we found significant differences between students and faculty responses in providing mathematics or theory as an approach to modeling a design solution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-269
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012


  • Adaptive expertise
  • Conceptions
  • Design
  • Modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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