Implementing Abbreviated Personas into Engineering Education

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Personas are fictional archetypal consumers that aid designers and engineers in more effectively creating products with a human interface. As more products shift from strict utilitarian function to meeting additional physical and psychological needs, designers and engineers must implement emotional design in more domains. Learning to employ personas to explore elements of emotional design is beneficial in an academic course and capstone project as these personas allow students to consider engineering requirements from the perspective of Donald Norman’s three aspects of emotional design: visceral, behavioral, and reflective. In this paper, we present an approach to evaluate the efficacy of using abbreviated personas, which are truncated personas containing typical user biographic information, goals, habits, or experiences. In our first experiment at Stanford University the students focused on the use of and outcome from the abbreviated personas and not the persona generation itself. The lessons learned from this experiment were then applied in a capstone course at the US Military Academy to better understand the full extent of implementation into engineering education. The automotive design capstone originated in a mechanical engineering course focused on engineering engagement through story-telling and included three distinct presentation methods for abbreviated personas at a public exhibition. Over 250 participants interacted with the abbreviated personas and manipulated an analog display based on their understanding of each persona. From these participants, 82 provided written feedback and completed exit surveys on the presentation methods for the abbreviated personas. The data indicate that despite some differences between the presentation methods, all the abbreviated personas contained enough information for making design decisions based on user emotion and requirements. The second application of abbreviated personas builds on this notion and unifies the presentation method to focus on the inputs of the abbreviated personas throughout the design/build process in the capstone. Team member interviews and surveys will capture the data from this iteration.
Engineering education, Personas
Kralick, J., & Karanian, B. A. (2020, June), Implementing Abbreviated Personas into Engineering Education Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34778