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Kristin L. Wood

Visiting Professor, Director of the Design Innovation and Design Odyssey Program & Founding Head of Pillar (EPD)

Research Areas:
Design Science

Pillar / Cluster: Engineering Product Development


After completing his doctoral work, Dr Wood joined the faculty at the University of Texas in September 1989 and established a computational and experimental laboratory for research in engineering design and manufacturing, in addition to a teaching laboratory for prototyping, reverse engineering measurements, and testing. During the 1997-98 academic year, Dr Wood was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the United States Air Force Academy where he worked with USAFA faculty to create design curricula and research within the Engineering Mechanics / Mechanical Engineering Department. Through 2011, Dr Wood was a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Design & Manufacturing Division at The University of Texas at Austin. He was a National Science Foundation Young Investigator, the “Cullen Trust for Higher Education Endowed Professor in Engineering”, “University Distinguished Teaching Professor”, and the Director of the Manufacturing and Design Laboratory (MaDLab) and MORPH Laboratory.

Dr Wood has published more than 300 commentaries, refereed articles and books, and has received three ASME Best Research Paper Awards, two ASEE Best Paper Awards, an ICED Best Research Paper Award, the Keck Foundation Award for Excellence in Engineering Education, the ASEE Fred Merryfield Design Award, the NSPE AT&T Award for Excellence in Engineering Education, the ASME Curriculum Innovation Award, the Engineering Foundation Faculty Excellence Award, the Lockheed Martin Teaching Excellence Award, the Maxine and Jack Zarrow Teaching Innovation Award, the Academy of University Distinguished Teaching Professors’ Award, and the Regents’ Outstanding Teacher Award. Of particular note are Dr Wood’s published books in design, including “Product Design: Techniques in Reverse Engineering and New Product Development” with Dr K. Otto and “Tools for Innovation” with Dr A. Markman.


  • PhD Mechanical Engineering (AT&T Bell Laboratories PhD Scholar), Division of Engineering and Applied Science, California Institute of Technology
  • MSc Mechanical Engineering, Division of Engineering and Applied Science, California Institute of Technology
  • BSc Engineering Science (Magna cum Laude, minor in mathematics), Colorado State University,1985

Research Interests

Dr. Wood’s research focuses on projects related to product design, development, and evolution. Such projects include design innovation, design-by-analogy, advanced manufacturing processes, such as Solid Freeform Fabrication, methods in product development and innovation, design for manufacturing and tolerance methods, machine-system design, design for product flexibility, design transformer theory, reverse engineering, and design teaching and learning methods for kindergarten through graduate levels. Example applications of this research include the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, micro-electro-mechanical systems, flexible consumer products, energy harvesting systems, and transformer / reconfigurable systems.

Research Projects

In all of the material that is considered to comprise engineering, no subject is more enigmatic than design. Indeed, the very term “design” defies a common definition. Some represent it as a “creative, intuitive, iterative, innovative, unpredictable” process, a “compound of art and science,” that by its very nature cannot be fully described or explained. Others, eschewing such a nebulous definition, choose to think of it as a method of solving open-ended problems that is “a sub-set of the decision-making process in general.” Even others set forth a “science of design,” defined by intrinsic axioms, principles, and law, analogous to the physical sciences. Despite the varied definitions, however, virtually everyone acknowledges the unique nature of “designing” and agrees that “design,” above all else, defines the difference between engineering and pure science. Design, however we define it, represents the bridge between theory and reality. It is the process by which our ideas enter and influence society, and vice versa. In short, “designing” distinguishes the field of engineering, and engineering as a profession.

Over the past 26 years, Dr. Wood’s research focus is on design, and, in particular engineering design. As a snapshot or snippets of Dr. Wood’s research projects, consider the following research summaries of a number of Dr. Wood’s current projects:

  1. Design Theory, Design Methods, and Intersections with Cognitive Science
    1. Fundamental Studies in Design by AnalogyDesign by analogy is a noted approach for ideation and conceptual design. This work, at the intersection of engineering design and cognitive science research, seeks to develop robust design-by-analogy methods. This endeavor is sought through a series of fundamental social science experiments focusing on understanding the influence of representation on the design-by-analogy process. The first two experiments evaluate the effects analogous product descriptions, either more general or domain specific, on a designer’s ability to later use the product to solve a novel design problem. Six different design problems with corresponding analogous products are evaluated. The third experiment in the series uses a factorial experiment to explore the effects of the representation (domain specific or general sentinel descriptions) for both the design problem and the analogous product on the designer’s ability to develop solutions to novel design problems. Results show that more general representation of the analogous products facilitates later use for a novel design problem. The highest rates of success occur when design problems are presented in domain specific representations and the analogous product is in a domain general representation.While it is recognized that design-by-analogy may be a powerful tool in a designer’s toolbox, few designers have the methods to harness its full capacity. Simply recognizing its potential and attempting to search mentally for analogies is not enough. Designers need methods and tools to support this process. They need approaches which assist them in developing innovative / novel ideas. Based on the results of fundamental experiments, it is clear that designers will be aided by methods to characterize design problem in a multitude of representations. The right representations have the potential to increase a designers’ novelty of ideas by up to 40%. These methods need to be built on a solid understanding of human capacity combined with scientific design knowledge.Based on this research, a deeper understanding of the mechanism behind analogical reasoning and their implications within design will guide the development of drastically improved design-by-analogy methods and tools for design innovation. Representation clearly matters and seeking improved representations has great potential for significantly enhancing the innovation process.
    2. The Verrochio Project: Advanced Analogical Search with Integrated Function and Form The United States has a history of designing innovative products and bringing them to market successfully. In the current globalized economy, our competitive edge will depend all the more on our ability to design original, novel products and solutions. Innovation is largely dependent on the ideation phase of design; the novelty and quality of a design depends on the number and quality of design concepts generated during this phase. Much research has shown that a major component of creative ideation is based on the incorporation of analogies in concept generation. The Verrocchio Project seeks to improve our capabilities in concept generation through collaboration between the disciplines of Cognitve Psychology, Computer Science, and Engineering Design to provide new tools for design by analogy. Our approach is based on a representation that associates functional and geometric information. We combine a linguistic search for functional similarity with a multi-level search for geometric similarity to automatically identify and present analogies to the designer. The initial application for the Verrocchio Project is the design of prosthetic and orthotic devices for persons with disabilities, a domain that is ripe for innovation. Our initial search space is the USPTO utility patent repository.The Verrocchio project is founded on fundamental cognitive psychology research in the use of analogies in engineering design at the three collaborating institutions. The project will produce innovations in three main areas: (1) systematic, automated retrieval from a database of designs based on linguistic descriptions of function; (2) geometric filtering of the designs based at different levels of abstraction; and (3) cognitive experiments to measure the impact of our approach on the quality of designs produced. Our approach will produce analogies automatically, but their applicability and use in the design process will be determined by the user.The immediate impact of the proposed work will be measurable improvements in the creativity and quality of design solutions produced. We will measure this impact within the context of product design courses taught at the collaborating institutions. We also expect to discover innovative designs for assistive technologies, products for developing countries, and, more generally, solutions to sub-problems of the NAE’s 14 Grand Challenges of the 21st Century.Aside from the particular improvements described above we expect the proposed research to have five broad and transformative impacts. The first impact arises from the key product of the research: a method for systematically and automatically identifying analogies. This tool will have broad applicability across many product domains, and will improve the efficiency of the search for innovative products in those domains. Second, the research will advance the foundation for use of analogies in engineering design methods. Third, because the research will result in a computer implementation of the method, the work will add to the growing cyber infrastructure of the country. Fourth, the interdisciplinary nature of the research ensures cross-fertilization of theory and research techniques in each of the collaborators’ disciplines. This interdisciplinary will enhance the probability of broad adoption of the approach. Fifth, we will develop instructional materials for training our students in the approach. These instructional materials will be freely available to instructors at other institutions, encouraging broader adoption of the approach.
    3. Innovations in Design Through Transformation: A Fundamental Study of tRaNsFoRmAtIoN Principles the act of creating a new product, system or process is an innovation: the result of excogitation, study and experimentation. It’s an inductive and/or deductive process. The former is a process of studying systems that exist, for example, in nature, patents and products, and inducing from these system behavior and elemental features for innovating novel products. The latter is a process of deducing such aspects from hypothetical concepts and situations where systems or products could exist. By the application of a combined inductive and deductive approach, this research project seeks to develop a methodology for the creation of innovative products with a broader functional repertoire than traditional designs. This breed of innovative products is coined as transformers, transforming into different configurations or according to different states. Current design theory lacks a systematic methodology for the creation of products that have the ability to transform. This research identifies analogies in nature, patents and products along with hypothesizing the existence of such products in different environments and situations. Transformation Design Principles are extracted by studying key design features and functional elements that make up a transforming product. These principles are defined and categorized according to their roles in general transformations. The principles and categorizations are then validated and applied to conceptualize transforming products as part of an innovative design process.
    4. Product FlexibilityThe strategic objective of this research projects is to create, develop, and deploy innovative design methods for flexible product development. Product or design flexibility is the degree of responsiveness (or adaptability) of a design to shifting and varied customer needs, technologies, and other factors that motivate changes in a product. While ongoing research addresses product flexibility for product portfolios, product families, and mass customization, little research has been conducted in design for future product evolution. Design for future product evolution concerns the predictive architecting of a product to accommodate market-driven, future changes in the product over time. Industries are increasingly seeking design strategies for product flexibility. Mass-produced, single offerings of products are becoming more and more rare and specialized. The dynamics of product markets, short-development times, and global competitiveness place a premium on a company’s (and a product development firm’s) abilities to be customer centric, to respond quickly to changing needs, to offer wide variety across a marketplace, and to make appropriate decisions that balance these factors. Our work on product flexibility develops fundamental principles and techniques to assist companies in this pursuit.In the proposed research, we seek to determine underlying principles of product flexibility. To determine these principles, basic research will be performed in (1) establishing a comprehensive metric and decision-making tool for evaluating and comparing the degree of flexibility or adaptability of a product for future changes, and (2) combining deductive, empirical studies of flexible products with inductive functional analysis research on guidelines for teachable design methods. This research is driven by basic research and industry needs that were identified at workshops held at NIST, the National Science Foundation, and product development firms. The intellectual merit of this research is its impact on engineering research and industry practice via (1) developing a basic understanding of physical and socio-economic aspects of design flexibility, and (2) creating methods for designing flexibility into product architectures. Results from our pilot studies in these areas are very promising.As part of the proposed research, we seek to employ the discoveries from our empirical studies and inductive research to drive the development of a basic decision analysis tool we refer to as Change Modes and Effects Analysis (CMEA). This tool has analogies to FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis) and seeks to create a risk assessment approach for creating flexibility in a product. Through this approach, we will be answering the following open questions: what is flexibility, how is flexibility best measured, what is the value ($) of providing intrinsic flexibility in products, and how do we optimally infuse flexibility features into product development? To answer these questions, basic research will be performed on the appropriate metrics and mathematical models. The ability to design flexibility into a product or portfolio of products must build on fundamental principles. However, the degree of flexibility actually implemented in a product depends on the inherent value gained from the functionality, physical artifacts, supply chain, and production capabilities related to this flexibility. This “value” concerns both the customers (in terms of their changing needs and desires) and the company (in terms of its expected revenue and market share). Because design flexibility is predictive in nature, the proposed decision analysis approaches must handle the uncertainties and interrelated goals of a sustained product offering.
    5. From Brainstorming and Mindmapping to C-Sketch to Principles of Historical Innovators: A Suite of Ideation Techniques to Enhance Creativity. The heart and soul of engineering is innovation and our ability to improve the human condition through design. To enrich engineering design, it critical that we advance our understanding of innovation and design processes. This research focuses on the ideation component of innovation through the investigation of a suite of concept generation techniques. These techniques have been developed for engineering across disciplines and at all levels of application. In this research, we advance our suite of techniques through the evolution of a method known as “principles of historical innovators.” Based on the deployment of the techniques, including the evolved method, , we execute a study to evaluate if the suite of techniques enables designers to generate a large quantity of diverse concepts and if the suite enhances the creativity of these designers. Our approach is to pre-survey participants regarding a self assessment of their creativity using Gouge’s list of creativity descriptors. A control and experimental group of participant design teams across disciplines are then asked to develop as many concepts as possible for selected design projects. The control group only executes a single and well-known method from the suite of concept generation techniques, whereas the experimental group employs the entire suite of techniques. The total number of concepts developed by the teams is evaluated, documenting the number of concepts per ideation technique. The teams are also asked to complete a post-creativity survey. The assessment results from this study show a clear and statistically valid enhancement of the designers’ creativity, a higher quantity of concepts generated from the suite of techniques, and appreciation of atypical techniques such the “principles of historical innovators”.
  2. Applied Design Research, Innovative Manufacturing, and Technology Development
    1. Innovations in Energy Harvesting In designing for a system’s life cycle considerations, long-term energy needs often become an important limiting factor. Shifts away from conventional energy sources such as fossil fuels and towards renewable sources, e.g. wind and solar, have become popular ways to focus on the lifecycle of large-scale systems like automobiles and the national electrical grid. This same shift in small, low-power systems such as sensors not only makes the products more environmentally responsible, but also potentially increases the operational life of the systems.This research work seeks to introduce a methodology for determining the feasibility of energy harvesting as a viable power source. The method is demonstrated by considering a wireless sensor node and the specific application of monitoring strain on a highway bridge, with a target operational life of ten years for the sensor node. Peak and average power requirements are calculated and compared to the power density available from solar, wind, and vibration energy. Energy storage is also discussed, both rechargeable (as a necessary component of the energy harvesting system) and disposable (as the status quo that must be exceeded to make energy harvesting feasible).Solar, wind, and vibration energy are all found to be feasible sources of power for this particular application. Vibration harvesting has significantly lower power density than solar and wind harvesting, but has the advantage of being less dependent on location, more self-contained, and largely maintenance free. Energy harvesting in general only becomes attractive for projected life cycles exceeding the life of disposable batteries, which for this particular application is estimated at 3-4 years. Thus, energy harvesting is an excellent way to extend the lifespan of low-power systems where power availability is the limiting factor.Building upon this foundational research, a basic functional study of energy harvesters is developed, with particular applications to large infrastructure, such as bridge health monitoring, and small-to-medium scale consumer products. This functional study shows key innovation functions for developing novel approaches to energy harvesters across a wide variety of energy domains. Based on the development of solution principles for these functions, new technologies are being developed for solar, wind, vibration, and other types of energy harvesters.
    2. Innovative Manufacturing Approaches for Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DFMC)Direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC) provide an exciting alternative to current energy storage technologies for powering small portable electronic devices. For applications with sufficiently long durations of continuous operation, DMFC’s offer higher energy density, the ability to be refueled instead of recharged, and easier fuel handling and storage than devices that operate with hydrogen. At present, materials and manufacturing challenges impede performance and have prevented the entry of these devices to the marketplace. Higher-performing, cost-effective materials and efficient manufacturing processes are needed to enable the commercialization of DMFC.In a DMFC, the methanol-rich fuel stream and the oxidant are isolated from one another by a proton-conducting and electrically insulating membrane. Catalysts in the electrodes on either side of the membrane-electrode assembly (MEA) promote the two simultaneous half-reactions which allow the chemical energy carried in the fuel and oxidant to be converted directly into electricity. The goal of this research effort is to develop a continuous manufacturing process for the fabrication of a DMFC MEA.Based on the geometry of the electrode and materials used in the MEA, we propose a roll-to-roll process in which electrodes are coated onto a suitable substrate and subsequently assembled to form a MEA. Appropriate coating methods for electrode fabrication are identified by evaluating the requirements of continuous manufacturing processes; an appropriate set of these processes may then be reduced to practice on a custom-designed flexible test bed designed explicitly for this project. After establishing baseline capabilities for several candidate methods, a spraying process is selected and a continuous manufacturing process concept is proposed. Finally, key control parameters of the spraying process are identified and their influence tested on actual MEAs to define optimal operating conditions.
    3. Advances in Solid Freeform Fabrication and Product Architecture Engineering design and manufacturing research have matured and evolved greatly over the last three decades. On the one hand, methods in engineering design are significantly impacting industry practice. They have also dramatically changed our classroom instruction and teaching pedagogies in engineering. On the other hand, new manufacturing processes have been commercialized and infused into production lines. These same processes are being used to prototype, quickly, our ideas in the engineering classroom.If we were to forecast the emerging research areas in engineering design and manufacturing, industry benchmarks show five distinct areas with great potential: virtual modeling and control, design synthesis and ideation, micro- and nano-materials and machines, methods in product architecture, and solid freeform fabrication. The focus of this research is on the latter two areas: methods in solid freeform fabrication and product architecture.Solid freeform fabrication (SFF) encompasses technologies that are capable of producing complex freeform solid objects directly from a computer model of an object without part-specific tooling or knowledge. Such technologies are, for the most part, constructive processes and have been termed rapid prototyping. These processes address the rapid creation of models, prototypes, patterns, and limited run manufacturing. In the context of product architecture, the next generation of SFF processes will produce refined functional components directly from precursor materials. Development and commercialization of these SFF processes will not only result in the ability to fabricate small lot high-end components economically but will also provide technologies to fabricate compositionally heterogeneous, geometrically complex components that are extremely difficult or impossible to make by conventional methods. Recent advancements are studied toward this next generation of SFF, especially the areas of functional prototyping, functional testing, and new fabrication methods for optical components.Product architecture research focuses on the development of basic principles and systematic methods for laying out product function and components. Important topics in this research field are advancements in portfolios, platforms, and modularity. Recent developments in these topical areas are studied, especially those focusing on the early phases of the product development process. These research developments are tested empirically and are applied with partner companies.
    4. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. The Gust Resistant Wing (GRW) research is a collaborative project between the University of Texas at Austin, the US Air Force Academy and the Air Force Research Labs. The project focuses on modifications to the wings of a Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) system in order to reduce its susceptibility to wind gusts. MAVs are much more sensitive to wind gusts due to their light weight and slow speeds. The primary mission of these MAVs is to provide video images to a remote user. Wind gusts detract from this mission by degrading video image quality. This research implements a new Transformational Design Methodology that resulted in five concepts for GRWs. These concepts are being tested in wind tunnels and actual flights. Based on preliminary results, one of these concepts shows the potential to improve resistance to gusts by over 50% as compared to standard wing configurations.
    5. Ornithopters. An “Ornithopter” is flying machine that uses an insect or bird type flapping wing motion to develop required lift and thrust. In comparison with fixed-wing or rotary-wing machines, ornithopters offer potential advantages that include increased\maneuverability, lower power consumption, higher adaptability to varying situations, and the ability to hover. The simple flapping motion used in existing commercial ornithopter micro air vehicles occurs only in the plane that is perpendicular to the vehicle fuselage; however, birds and insects flap their wings in a more complicated pattern. For example, a hummingbird is able to hover by flapping its wings up and down, sweeping its wings forward and backward, and twisting its wings to vary their angle of attack. This research project focuses on the development of ornithopter flapping mechanisms that produce wing motions approaching those of the hummingbird. The feasibility and effectiveness of several mechanisms are being evaluated, including flexible ornithopter testbeds.
  3. Innovations in Engineering Education
    1. DTEACh: Design Technology and Engineering for All ChildrenDesign Technology and Engineering for All Children (DTEACh) is a K-12 program for teaching applied mathematics and science within the context of solving design problems. The program includes a design-based curriculum and in-service teacher enhancement institutes developed and piloted prior to 1992 by Dr. Marilyn Fowler, a specialist in STEM Education. Through grass-roots collaboration between Education, led by Dr. Fowler, and the Engineering, led by Drs. Crawford and Wood, professional development content and curricula were developed and offered initially to K-6 teachers in Central Texas. In-service institutes began during the 1992-93 academic year with the support from the Eisenhower Foundation and the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL), and were designed to provide the necessary content background for teachers to use and integrate the DTEACh curriculum into the classroom. Both the curriculum and the institutes included units on engineering materials, statics and structures, mechanisms, electricity, and energy.In 1999, the faculty at The University of Texas at Austin developed a unit on control, automation and robotics that featured ROBOLAB and LEGO Mindstorms for Schools. This effort, funded by National Instruments, grew to two eight-day summer institutes and bi-monthly academic year workshops, and has led, to date, to the professional development of more than 700 Central Texas K-12 educators, impacting over 60,000 students.During 2005, the Cockrell School of Engineering and National Instruments grew their partnership through the “Beacon of Light” initiative. This initiative focused on the creation of the K-12 Center for STEM literacy as part of the Cockrell School of Engineering. The DTEACh program grew as a consequence of this initiative, especially in the growth and direction of the Central Texas Region FFL (FIRST LEGO League) competition, focusing on middle school design and robotics.As a direct consequence of the “Beacon of Light” initiative, the leaders of the DTEACh program, as part of the Cockrell School of Engineering, secured funding from a number of sources, such as the Boeing Foundation. In the Fall of 2009, DTEACh secured a major NSF ITEST grant of $1.5 million, to establish after-school and summer camp programs. These programs, known as Beyond Blackboards, are targeted in Austin-area school districts, build upon the successful DTEACh model, and represent a significant evolution of DTEACh to impact students in non-traditional settings.Another direct consequence of the “Beacon of Light” initiative is a partnership between the UTeach and DTEACh programs. Beginning in 2008, the Cockrell School of Engineering worked synergistically with the nationally acclaimed UTeach program to create an ground-breaking engineering track for teacher certification. Engineering students interested in pursuing careers teaching can obtain certification with state-of-the-art teaching methods and curricula from education, the natural sciences, and engineering. A complement to the teacher certification is the creation of a Masters’ degree program for high school teacher. This complementary program is also funded by NSF and provides an approach for current teachers to obtain an advanced degree focusing on engineering curricula for high STEM courses.Beyond Blackboards, as part of DTEACh, offers an integrated approach to engaging middle school students, teachers, counselors, administrators, parents and caregivers in activities that improve awareness and understanding of a range of STEM college and career pathways. Beyond Blackboards is framed within the National Academy of Engineer’s Grand Challenges of the 21st Century. We connect the K-16 community by facing those Grand Challenges through engineering. This project focuses on developing an interdisciplinary, inquiry-based engineering program and evaluating the effective strategies for developing a culture of engineering education in Central Texas.

      Beyond Blackboards employs a four-pronged approach of: (1) engaging students in inquiry-based learning opportunities that encourage practice of key STEM concepts, development of analytical skills, and increased awareness of STEM college and career pathways; (2) professional development and support for teachers to guide students in meaningful engineering design activities and targeted STEM college and career pathway investigation in the context of after school innovation clubs and summer engineering camps; (3) educating counselors and administrators about STEM college and career pathways through a series of field experiences (e.g., industry visits, university laboratory tours), presentations, and interactive discussions with teachers, university representatives, and STEM professionals; and (4) informing parents and caregivers of the full range of STEM college and career pathway options so that they may support and encourage their students’ pursuit of STEM-related educational and professional goals.

      There are scale-up possibilities in research and in program development. There is a need to expand on researching the four main stakeholders in this program by building on the current evaluation model to later incorporate Eccles‟ longitudinal studies (Expectancy Value Model), and incorporate narrative inquiry. Portfolio development as evaluation tools for teaching and student learning would be integrated into the research in this scale up phase of the Beyond Blackboards program.

    2. New Directions for Engineering Curricula and Teaching: Developing Engineering Student Innovation in Generation Next (DESIGN)The purpose of this research is to expand the number and diversity of engineering students and fundamentally enhance their mindset and skill set for leading innovation. This research will pioneer adaptable and replicable first-year-to-senior redesign of selected engineering programs and majors at a diversity of institutions to infuse innovation into the very fabric of engineering curricula.In response to the call for more diverse and innovative engineering graduates, the research project has set two goals: (1) improve abilities of engineering graduates to lead innovation and develop their capabilities to serve as innovative leaders, and (2) increase the number and diversity of engineering students graduating from partner programs. The project is built around an assertion that assessment drives curriculum and teaching strategies, so a primary focus is developing an assessment plan that informs curricular redesign activities and is reproducible across higher education.The research team articulates five overarching sets of learning outcomes essential for students to develop an innovative mindset and skill set: (i) reflection, observation and hypothesizing; (ii) opportunity and needs analysis; (iii) ideation, concept generation, abstraction, and multiple representations; (iv) quantitative decision making for open-ended, design problems; and (v) creative resource utilization. Project literature review shows that the learning outcomes and associated skill sets have not a priori been clearly identified or thoroughly studied. The research team has prepared a first-year-to-senior assessment plan that will provide data on student development with respect to these five sets. The research partners have each developed preliminary curriculum transformation plans to develop the five sets of learning outcomes. With industry collaboration, transformation efforts will be guided and modified based on the comprehensive assessment plan for the two project goals. Assessment will include both qualitative and quantitative measures specific to each innovation skill set. The research team will utilize a comprehensive student database across all seven institutions enabling longitudinal tracking of recruitment, retention, and graduation of students with respect to education experience, gender and race/ethnicity. Most importantly, the database will be used to track student development of the innovative mindset and skill set.As student demographics shift, broader participation in and development of innovative engineering requires synthesis of curricular and teaching perspectives promoting development of individual and team capabilities with higher education and societal perspectives encouraging participation of underrepresented minorities and women in engineering. A diversity of institutions are a natural laboratory for learning ways to promote broader participation in engineering education and the workforce that can inform other efforts across the nation. Synthesis of approaches used by the research partners will provide an exciting foundation for future efforts intended to increase numbers and increase diversity of engineering graduates. Common and innovative assessment approaches, multiple strategies to achieve goals, and diverse institutions will provide rich information upon which national curriculum redesigns can be based.
    3. Active Learning, Hands-on Methods, and Social ConstructivismContinuous improvement of student learning is a worthy, yet elusive, goal. Active learning and hands-on activities have been shown to play a significant role in this improvement process. The use of these activities generally causes the students to be more engaged in the learning process. A team of faculty and graduate students are developing an extensive set of active learning products (ALPs) that have been found to reinforce difficult concepts and to improve overall compression of course materials. Twenty-three of the active learning products have been developed with eight pilots tested at multiple institutions. Evaluation consisted of a variety of measures including student opinion surveys, focus groups, pre/post activity quizzes, exam questions and a concept inventory. A demographic data set collected on each student allows for exploration of correlations between different student demographic descriptions (for example, gender, Big 5 personality dimensions, MBTI type, etc.) and the effect of the ALP on that student’s understanding of the material. The testing was done at a several different types of institutions to provide a wide range of data sets: Research – University of Texas at Austin, Four year teaching – United States Air Force Academy, and Community College – Austin Community College. In general, students are excited about these activities, their interest level is greatly improved, and they believe they are learning more. The quantitative data supports the hypothesis that the use of these types of activities increases learning. While these general findings exist, students’ opinions of the activities do vary with their general performance and understanding in the course. Personality dimensions, other demographic data, and perception of performance in the class all had influence on the students’ opinions of the activities. The foundations of this research continue for the purpose of developing a methodology for designing effective and repeatable active-learning activities across engineering topics and disciplines.

Research Opportunities

Undergraduate research assistants, graduate research assistants, and post-docs are desired for positions in all projects listed in the Research Projects section.

Awards & Achievements

  • Elk’s Student of the Month, 1981
  • Bausch and Lomb Math and Sciences Award, 1981
  • National Who’s Who Award, 1981
  • Ranum Physics Student of the Month, 1981
  • Ranum Scholar Award, 1981 Ranum Faculty Award, 1981
  • Ranum Scholar – Athlete Award, 1981
  • Salutatorian Iver C. Ranum High School, 1981
  • Elk’s Foundation “Most Valuable Student” Award, 1981
  • Phi Sigma Freshman Honors Award, 1981-1982
  • Phi Kappa Phi National Honors Award, 1982
  • Alpha Lambda Delta Freshman Honors, 1981-82
  • Colorado State University Presidential Award, 1981-1985
  • Colorado State University Engineering Dean’s List, 1982-1985
  • Myron Brown Ludlow Award, Colorado State University, 1982-1985
  • Colorado State University Engineering Dean’s Council Award, 1982-1985
  • Tau Beta Pi National Honors Society, 1984-1985
  • IEEE Merwin Scholar, 1984-1985
  • Golden Key National Honors Society, Colorado State University, 1985
  • Colorado State University (CSU) Alumni Services Award, 1985
  • Engineering Science Outstanding Senior, Colorado State, University, 1985
  • Bachelor of Science (Magna cum Laude), Colorado State University, 1985
  • AT&T-Bell Laboratories Ph.D. Scholar, sponsored by the AT&T Foundation, 1987-1989
  • American Men and Women of Science, 1991
  • Teaching Excellence Award, UT Department of Mechanical Engineering, Lockheed Martin, 1992
  • Read Apple Award, Awards Committee of the Austin Independent School District, Adopt-A-School Board of Directors, 1992
  • Selection: Research Associate for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Summer Faculty Research Program (declined for leave of absence at IBM Austin, June 1992), 1992
  • AISD Adopt-A-School Program: Service Award, Awarded to the UT Department of Mechanical Engineering, 1992
  • National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, 1992-1998
  • ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineering) Design Theory and Methodology Best Paper Award, Phoenix, AZ, September 1992
  • June and Gene Gillis Endowed Faculty Fellowship in Manufacturing, UT Austin, College of Engineering, 1993-2001
  • ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineering) Design Theory and Methodology Conference Best Paper Award, Albuquerque, NM, September, 1993
  • W. M. Keck Foundation National Award for Engineering Teaching Excellence, 1994-1995
  • ASEE (American Society of Engineering Education) Fred Merryfield Design Award, 1995
  • NSPE (National Society of Professional Engineers) National AT&T Engineering Teaching Excellence Award, 1995
  • Selected, USAF Academy, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Engineering Mechanics, 1997-1998
  • Engineering Foundation Faculty Excellence Award, Halliburton Teaching Award Winner, The University of Texas, 1997-1998
  • ASEE (American Society of Engineering Education) Best Paper Award, Mechanical Engineering Division, ASEE Annual Conference, 1998
  • Departmental Teaching Excellence Award, UT Department of Mechanical Engineering, Lockheed Martin, 1999
  • ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineering) Design Theory and Methodology Conference Best Paper Award, sponsored by Xerox, Las Vegas, NV, September 1999
  • Lockheed Martin Engineering Outstanding Teaching Award, College of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Nominated, 2000
  • ASME 2000 Curriculum Innovation Award, “Incorporating Learning Styles to Enhance Mechanical Engineering Curriculum by Restructuring Courses, Increasing Hands-On Activities, and Improving Team Dynamics,” joint between the United States Air Force Academy and UT Austin, 2000
  • ASME Service Award, Design Theory and Methodology Committee Chairperson, 2001
  • Education Excellence Award, Design Technology and Engineering for America’s Children (DTEACh), Engineering, Science and Technology Council of Houston, 2001
  • Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company Award for Excellence in Engineering Teaching, UT Austin, 2002
  • ICED (International Conference on Engineering Design), Design Society, Best Paper Award, Stockholm, Sweden, August 2003
  • Maxine and Jack Zarrow Family K-16 Teaching Innovation Award (First Inaugural Recipient), College of Engineering, The University of Texas, 2004-05
  • ASEE (American Society of Engineering Education) Best Paper Award, Mechanics Division, Machine Design Paper, Portland, OR, 2005
  • ASEE (American Society of Engineering Education) Best Presentation Award, Mechanics Division, Session 1168 – Improving Mechanics of Materials, “Enhancing Machine Design Courses Through Use of a Multimedia-Based Review of Mechanics of Materials, Portland, OR, 2005
  • ASEE (American Society of Engineering Education) Best Paper Nomination, Mechanics Division, Design Methodology for Active Learning Products, Chicago, IL, 2006
  • Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award Nomination, The University of Texas, 2006
  • Piper Professor Award Nomination, Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation, 2006
  • ASEE (American Society of Engineering Education) Best Presentation Award, Mechanics Division, “From Tootsie Rolls to Composites: Assessing a Spectrum of Active Learning Activities in Engineering Mechanics,” Honolulu, HI, 2007
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, College of Engineering, Colorado State University, 2010
  • Regent’s Outstanding Teaching Award, Tenured-Faculty, “One of the highest honors bestowed by The University of Texas System (10 Universities) for educational excellence,” 2010
  • Honorable Mention Paper Award, “Studying Ideation in Engineering Design.” “Outstanding Contributions – Mechanical Engineering Education” session, Mechanical Engineering Division, ASEE Conference in Vancouver B.C., 2011
  • Cullen Trust for Higher Education Endowed Professor in Engineering No. 1, UT Austin, College of Engineering, 2001-Present
  • University Distinguished Teaching Professor Award, Academy of Distinguished Teachers, 2003-Present

Selected Publications

  • Otto, K. N. and Wood, K. L., Product Design: Techniques in Reverse Engineering, Systematic Design, and New Product Development, Prentice-Hall, NY, 2001.
  • Hirtz, J., Stone, R., McAdams, D., Szykman, S., and Wood, K., “A Functional Basis for Engineering Design: Reconciling and Evolving Previous Efforts,” Journal of Research in Engineering Design, Vol. 13, No. 2, March 2002, pp. 65-82.
  • Wood, K.L., Jensen, D., and Singh, V., “Innovations in Design Through Transformation: A Fundamental Study of tRaNsFoRmAtIoN Principles,” ASME Journal of Mechanical Design, 2009, Vol. 131, No. 8, pp. 081010-1 thru 081010-18.
  • Linsey, J., Tseng, I., Fu, K., Cagan, J., Wood, K. L., and Schunn, C., “A Study of Design Fixation, Its Mitigation and Perception in Engineering Design Faculty,” ASME Journal of Mechanical Design, April 2010, Vol. 132, pp. 041003-1 thru 041003-12.
  • Chan, J., Fu, K., Schunn, C., Cagan, J., Wood, K., and Kotovsky, K., “On the Benefits and Pitfalls of Analogies for Innovative Design: Ideation Performance Based on Analogical Distance, Commonness, and Modality of Examples,” ASME Journal of Mechanical Design (JMD), Vol. 133, No. 8, DOI: 10.1115/1.4004396, 2011.