Design team activity is one of the most knowledge intensive of human behaviors. Defining “design” broadly to include both the synthesis of new products and the synthesis of new research, we ask one guiding question. What are designers really doing when they do design? Using a variety of observation techniques, but preferring video-interaction-analysis, we seek insights into their activity, thinking strategies and knowledge processing paradigms. Where observation leads to insight, we then ask how can we help them improve their own performance using information and communication technology?
Given 20 years of increasingly formal study, I would like to share several of our major findings, demonstrate how findings were applied to measurably improve performance, and finally to outline how the next generation of collaborative knowledge sharing tools and services can be deployed to accelerate globally distributed team innovation and learning. We believe that the lessons learned and strategies deployed are especially relevant to large, multi-disciplinary, undertakings like those found in Stanford’s Bio-X, Nano-X and Management-X initiatives.
About the speaker:
Professor Leifer's formal academic training was obtained at Stanford University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering (BS'62), a Master of Science degree in Product Design (MS'63) and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering (PhD'69). From 1969-1973 his research included electrophysiological measures of human information processing during flight simulation at the NASA Ames Research Center and the Man-Vehicle Laboratory at MIT. He was an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Systems Analysis at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in prior to joining the Stanford faculty in 1976. He presently teaches ME310, a high-tech graduate course in Team-based Product Design Innovation with Corporate Partners ; a Design Theory and Methodology seminar series entitled “Leaders in Design Innovation”; and he directs the Engineering Design Affiliates Program. He received the 1997 ASME award for Innovation in Engineering Education and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering Committee on Engineering Education.
He is founding director of the Stanford Center for Design Research (CDR'82) where he works with colleagues in AA, CE, CS, Medicine and the Humanities to understand and facilitate creative design-team activity. With a focus on globally distributed product development teams on campus and in industry, he is developing objective measures of design team performance (learning) under various real-world and emulation conditions using a variety of computational tools and services. Based in part on the results of experiments with curriculum reform and the NSF sponsored Synthesis Engineering Education Coalition, Professor Leifer was appointed founding director (1997-2001) of the Stanford Learning Laboratory, an initiative by then Stanford president Gerhard Casper to systematically improve collaborative learning through the judicious use of information and communication technology. His contributions to human-service robotics and design research are documented in approximately 250 peer-reviewed publications and have been presented internationally in over 300 invited lectures.
Stanford Center for Design Research
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Stanford, California 94305-4026
650-725-0158 office phone (msgs)
650-725-8475 office fax