This project involves the use of IDN (Interaction Dynamics Notation) and KAI (Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory) to examine how A.) characteristics of people on teams and B.) how those people interact are related to C.) the design team outcomes. It is a collaboration between researchers at Penn State and Stanford, funded by the NSF. Currently our team is conducting two studies: one a study of teams in a junior level mechanical engineering design class, the other a study of senior level students in an engineering leadership capstone class. The capstone class involves some students from Penn State and some from the Belgian Campus in Pretoria, South Africa. The research team is also analyzing data collected from over a dozen industry teams. We hope that our work helps the world to better understand what makes a team “high performing,” so teams can be designed to fall into that category more often.
Engineering design is a social-technical activity commonly practiced in teams. Understanding how engineers interact and work in teams is central to the understanding of technical innovation, and consequently, to industry efforts to improve the quality of technical innovation in the U.S. In this research, engineering design teams from industry will be directly observed in order to develop a new integrated model of High Performance Design Teams (HPDTs). The behavioral interactions and individual cognitive characteristics of the team members will be assessed, along with the products of the team sessions. The individual characteristics of the team members and their behavioral interactions will be mapped in relation to their performance in terms of innovative design to identify the behavioral building blocks of design teams that produce high performance outcomes. Identification of these behavioral building blocks will have a broad impact on current design practice and future research by providing the basis for developing scientific models of and new tools for improving engineering design teams in complex industry environments. Positive impact on engineering education will occur through transferring to students an explicit understanding of what accounts for high performance design and how one behaves in order to achieve it.
Video overview here.
Dr. Timothy Simpson (PSU)
Dr. Kathryn Jablokow (PSU)
Dr. Neeraj Sonalkar (Stanford)
Dr. Larry Leifer (Stanford)
National Science Foundation (NSF)
 Jablokow, K., Sonalkar, N., Avdeev, I., Thompson, B., Megahed, M., & Pachpute, P. (2018). Exploring the Dynamic Interactions and Cognitive Characteristics of NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Teams. Proc. of the 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition.
 Sonalkar, N., Jablokow, K., Edelman, J., Mabogunje, A., and Leifer, L., 2017, “Design Whodunit: The Relationship Between Individual Characteristics and Interaction Behaviors in Design Concept Generation,” ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, ASME, Cleveland, pp. 1–10.