Design Creativity and Design Thinking for Engineers

Design Creativity and Design Thinking for Engineers


The design thinking and design creativity are crucial in the engineering. The Su-Field is one of the TRIZ key tools used in coming up with creative designs. It is a crucial tool of understanding the designing as a problem-solving process. It is possible to develop more TRIZ applications to help in designing. Notably, a more understanding of the engineer’s knowledge and the Express-Test-Cycle is sought. The community will benefit from more improved designs and knowledge on the choice of the engineers.

Literature review

Beckman and Barry [14] described the designing process as an explicit process that involves simplifying the complex problems to small problems that can be solved by the experts. Later, the engineers found the procedure to be more mechanical especially with the complexity of the problems. The current discourse has described the design process to be an integrated problem-solving process involving multiple disciplines. There are various tools used in the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) [4]. The Substance-Field Analysis (Su-Field) is the crucial tool that facilitates systematic retrieval of knowledge that facilitates holistic exploitation [3]. The Su-Field is used in solving the problem indirectly after it is broken down into triads [12]. Currently, the TRIZ is used in recognition of the Design Creativity and Thinking as a problem solving. Nevertheless, more applications can be found from the TRIZ.

The designing process is great and requires thinking and creativity. The process of designing combines both logical and the synthetic elements [13]. The process allows the discovery in the analytical part and making inventions in the synthetic phase. It involves the process of creatively integrating the theories learnt in class into the practical world [13]. The generation of creative designs involves the development of thinking ability through learning and the renovation of the knowledge. Onarheim [2] noted that constraints faced in the daily life of the engineer designers demand creativity. In fact, many authors have explained that in the absence of constraints, design creativity would be absent. Lasky & Yoon [6] explained that the design creativity involves coming up with new design ideas that fit the real world situations, a process that involves design thinking.

Cooperrider [1] recognized the Express-Test-Cycle to be the simplest design process. The process comprised ideation, the definition the problem, brainstorming and sketching. It is a process that demands creativity. In the process of Express-Test-Cycle, the engineers involve the testing of the prototypes. The design thinking is vital when engineers need to come up with designs that are more creative. McKoy et al. [8] explained the need to integrate the design thinking with the different fields that play a role design. Can this be integrated into the Express-Test-Cycle? There is a need to make the process of the Express-Test-Cycle more comprehensive to help solve the design problems [10]. The design thinking and the design creativity can be used to improve the process beyond the use applied today. Innovation is a learning process, and new ways can be generated by making the process of the designing more creative [7].

Research questions

  1. What are the applications of Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) in the process of Design Creativity and Design Thinking?
  2. Do engineers with the same educational qualification have the same level of design creativity and design thinking?
  3. How can the design creativity and design thinking improve the Express-Test-Cycle?


The key goal of the proposal is to find ways to improve the design process through the application of design creativity and the design thinking. Notably, it will help evaluate whether there are engineers with the ability to come up with more creative designs than other despite having the same level of education. It helps the community in making decisions on the engineers fit for their projects.

            The context in the current body of knowledge: There are more applications of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) in the process of Design Creativity and Design Thinking as revealed by the current body of knowledge [7]. Initially, it was viewed as a process necessary to come up with more holistic ideas by taking the designing process as directed towards problem-solving. The current knowledge aims at coming up with more innovative ideas in the designing. The applications of TRIZ currently are on how to solve the problems uniquely and precisely which the core goal of design creativity and thinking is. Steps are underway in the development of computer applications that would be vital in supporting the analysis done in the TRIZ [7]. The development of such an application would promote the creativity and thinking among the engineers. In fact, there has been the development of the software that supports the TRIZ applications. Currently, there is huge research undergoing to computer applications that can support TRIZ.

Innovation is a key strategy to survive in the design industry today [11]. The engineer is required to have the innovative skills such as open-minded, creativity, communication, behavioural and the collaboration skills. These skills are gained in the learning process.  The designing thinking has been identified as a crucial pedagogical process necessary in instilling such innovative skills to individuals [11]. After the design thinking is used to form a basis of the innovative skills, they should be developed either by the employers or through individual’s effort [11]. Today, companies are gaining the competitive advantage through utilisation of the creative process in coming up with products designed uniquely. The design thinking is a vital process in engineering. The design thinking involves the incorporation of the theories in the practical problems. Engineers are supposed to sharpen their skills frequently.

The design creativity and the design thinking have the capability of improving the Express Test Cycle [9]. It is the simplest process of coming up with the design. Nevertheless, with the combination of design creativity and design thinking there is a possibility of advancement in the designing technology. The design thinking has the main goal of arriving at a solution [9]. The scientists advocate for the inclusion of technology in every scientist process. That way, more research, learning and generation of more comprehensive prototypes would be enhanced. The engineers are required to upgrade their theoretical and practical skills to fit in the developments in the real world.


The research has significant outcomes to the community. The crucial outcome is the development of computers applications in the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ). The applications would facilitate the development of creative designs by facilitating the engineers to come up with more innovative solutions to the problems. Significantly, the research will reveal the crucial factors of considerations when selecting engineers to design a given project.










  1. Cooperrider. “The importance of divergent thinking in engineering design. In Proceedings of the 2008 American Society for Engineering Education Pacific Southwest Annual Conference,” pp. 27-28, 2008.
  2. Onarheim. Creativity from constraints in engineering design: lessons learned at Coloplast. Journal Of Engineering Design, 23(4), 323-336. doi:10.1080/09544828.2011.631904, 2012.
  3. Belski and I. Belski. “Application of TRIZ in improving the creativity of engineering experts.” Proceedings of TRIZ Future Conference, 2013.
  4. C,K. Lee & R, BenzA. Teaching Innovation Skills: Application of Design Thinking in a Graduate Marketing Course. Business Education Innovation Journal, 7(1), 43-50, 2015.
  5. A. Dobrusskin, A. Belski, and I. Belski. “On the effectiveness of systematized substance-field analysis for idea generation.” TFC 2014: GIC-Global Innovation Convention. The European TRIZ Association, 2014.
  6. Lasky & S.A. Yoon, Making Space for the Act of Making: Creativity in the Engineering Design Classroom. Science Educator, 20(1), 34-43, 2011, 2011.
  7. E,D. Thinking. Innovation as a learning process. California management review, 50(1), 2007.
  8. F, L. McKoy, N, Vargas-Hernández, J, D. Summers & J, J. Shah,
  9. G, B. Clinton, Creativity in the training and practice of instructional designers: the Design/Creativity Loops model. Educational Technology Research & Development, 60(1), 111-130, 2012.
  10. Influence of design representation on effectiveness of idea generation. In ASME IDETC Design Theory and Methodology Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, Sept (pp. 9-12), 2001.
  11. International Conference on Design Creativity, T, Taura. Y, Nagai & International Conference on Design Creativity. Design creativity 2010. London: Springer, 2011.
  12. Razzouk and V. Shute. “What is design thinking and why is it important?” Review of Educational Research, 0034654312457429, 2012.
  13. S, L. Beckman & M. Barry. Innovation as a Learning Process: Embedding design thinking. California Management Review, 50(1), 25-56, 2007.
  14. S,L. Beckman, & M. Barry. Innovation as a Learning Process: Embedding design thinking. California Management Review, 50(1), 25-56. 2007.

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