Many first-year programs begin with a course that includes one or a few projects to excite and engage students in engineering. These projects vary from real world client based to socially relevant discipline based to design-build-test-compete to robotics based challenges. Each of these courses contain various learning goals including the engineering design process, communication skills, teamwork, ... read moreuse of analytical tools, learning programming languages, and introducing students to different engineering topics.In many engineering courses, there has been a move to give students open-ended, undefined problems. Some argue more open-ended problems are needed in the undergraduate curriculum to prepare students for the types of problems they will encounter in the workplace. However, literature on design had found beginning designers treat these problems as well-defined, straight forward problems and rarely come up with multiple solutions before deciding and building. From our own work, we have seen students struggle with open ended problems, spending hours on a design idea they were not required to produce and do not have enough resources to complete. Noticing this conflict, we decided to further examine the effect of definedness of problem hand on student work. This paper examines the differences in students' user needs and product specifications as part of their design solution when given different levels of problem definition.read less
Swenson, J., Schnedeker, M., Coppola, S., and Madariaga, L. (2015) Examining the Influence of an Ill- and Well-defined Problems in a First-Year Engineering Design Course. In Proceedings of the American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, Seattle, Washington.