Design by Analogy: Synectics and Knowledge Acquisition Network

  • Sebastian KoziołekEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Mechanical Engineering book series (LNME)


Truly successful engineers and inventors not only use their domain-specific knowledge; they also utilize knowledge from other domains as well as the large body of heuristics and metaheuristics. They are holistic thinkers using both their deductive (rational) and abductive (creative) capabilities. Present computing education mostly emphasizes the utilization of knowledge in the context of analysis. Unfortunately, this limited focus has a negative impact on engineering students as it severely limits their ability to become inventors. In computer-aided design, models utilize attributes only from the used representation space. Therefore, the nature of such space is decisive where innovation of results is concerned. How to build a representation space for the problem-specific knowledge but allowing exploration leading to innovation is a challenge within the intersection of engineering and computer science. This paper proposes a method for building a design representation space capturing domain knowledge and at the same time creating an opportunity to acquire knowledge outside the problem domain. This dual emphasis increases the potential for producing novel designs. The method combines the advantages of heuristic thinking based on Synectics with traditional systematic and analytical thinking and is intended mostly for use in conceptual design. It will allow designers to develop a fundamental understanding how to acquire knowledge necessary for conceptual design while preserving their ability to explore various domains and to expand a representation space.


Creativity Heuristic thinking Synectics Computing education 



This article is a result of research conducted in cooperation with Professor Tomasz Arciszewski from George Mason University, VA, USA. The Synectics session was held at George Mason University and Wroclaw University of Technology. The author thanks all synectors for their participation and numerous contributions, including David Flanigan, Mario Cardullo and Ali Adish. Finally, the authors would like to acknowledge contributions of Izabela Koziolek who has prepared all drawings used in Fig. 6.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Machine Design and ResearchWrocław University of TechnologyWroclawPoland

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