Department of Mechanical Engineering

Mr. Blake Jonathan Linnerud

Degree Candidacy: Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Date: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Time: 10:30 AM
Location: 215 EIB

Advisor: Dr. Gregory Mocko
Committee Members: Dr. Georges Fadel and Dr. Thomas W. Britt

Title: An Exploratory Study on the Effects of Goal Alignment, Interventions, and Motivational Factors on Innovative Engineering Design Projects

ABSTRACT

Innovation has become an important facet of engineering design, both in industry and the academy. Many senior-level engineering design courses encourage students to develop innovative solutions to open design projects from industry sponsors. Like industry, these academic problems are tackled by teams of students. Student teams that function at the highest level are more likely to reach the innovative solutions for which they are searching. The research presented in this work focuses on two main areas: (1) understanding what motivates engineers when working on innovative design projects and (2) determining the effects of goal alignment interventions on design teams working on innovative design projects. An exploratory survey was developed, validated, and administered to students in the capstone course at Clemson University to determine which motivational factors engineering students perceive to be most effective when working on innovative design projects. The initial results show that (1) “passing the class”, (2) “impressing the industry sponsors”, and (3) “making an ‘A’ in the class” are the three factors that most effectively promoted innovative design. Conversely, (1) “cash prizes”, (2) “increased project budget”, and (3) “receiving patents” are the three factors that least effectively promoted innovative design. A second exploratory study was conducted to determine if the effects of setting common goals could be quantified. Five of eighteen design teams were selected and guided to set common goals as a team during week five of their design experience. It was found that the teams that received interventions had an immediate increase in level of performance (p-value = 0.14) and motivation (p-value = 0.19) when compared to teams that did not receive interventions.