Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Member

Joshua Summers

Committee Member

Cameron Turner

Committee Member

John Wagner


This research aims to understand the influence of different representations of requirements on idea generation concerning the quantity, addressment, sketch detail, novelty, and variety of conceptual sketches. To solve design problems, engineers use the needs, desires, and wishes of stakeholders. The requirements document the targets of a project because it contains constraints and design criteria. Also, requirements can be used to track project progress. In essence, specifications are the raison d'être of any engineering project. While there is research studying the effect of requirements on the conceptual sketch, little study has focused on the impact of different requirement representations (contextual) on solution development. An experimental study was conducted with 52 undergraduate mechanical engineering students in their fourth year. Two design problems were formulated with three different representations: a problem statement with embedded requirements (Problem Statement), a problem statement and a traditional requirement list (Traditional), and a problem statement with contextualized scrum stories (Contextual). For each design problem, each student received different representations of requirements. They were given 15 minutes each to read and sketch concept solutions. These were then analyzed using quantity, addressment, sketch detail, novelty, and variety. It was found that the use of contextualized scrum story representations had a statistically significant impact on the conceptual sketch in terms of novelty of solution fragments and requirements addressed. Further, there was no significant change in variety, sketch detail, or quantity. The contextualized representation did positively affect all metrics but the sketch detail. Another finding was that there was no relationship between the amount of sketch generated (quantity) and addressment, novelty, variety, or sketch detail. Therefore, it is recommended that requirements be molded as scrum stories in projects. Also, this study has shown that implementation of the agile process in hardware development is not hindered by the contextual representation of requirements.



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