Scarlett Miller, PhD-Penn State University Photo
Segal Seminar Series

Scarlett Miller, PhD-Penn State University

October 23, 2012, 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center
1.350 (ITW Classroom)
2133 Sheridan Rd. Evanston , IL 60208

Breakthroughs and Cautionary Tales of Using Examples to Drive Design Innovation


The field of design has changed from a design from scratch to a design through synthesis environment where designers transform, combine or adapt elements of existing designs in order to generate new ideas. In other words, designers decompose existing examples and identify interesting components to reuse in their own design ideas. Although the use of examples serves a critical role in engineering design practice, the impact of design examples on creativity and innovation has been the source of controversy for the last two decades. This is problematic for both understanding and improving design methods and developing more effective design tools. This talk will provide an overview of three recent projects focused on understanding and improving example-centric design practices including studies on example usage in design industry, product dissection in engineering design and social media as a tool to aid in the design process.


Scarlett Miller holds the James F. Wills career development professorship in the School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs as well as the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. She also holds affiliate appointments in the College of Information Sciences and Technology and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Her research focuses on developing an in-depth understanding of human physical and cognitive abilities in order to develop next generation products and technologies that support human capabilities. Her research to date has had three main thrust: design cognition (understanding example usage in design), human-computer interaction (developing tools that support the design process), and ergonomic product design (e.g. laparoscopic surgical tool). More information about Scarlett and her research group The BRITE lab can be found at

PhD., Industrial Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
M.S., Industrial Engineering, University of Nebraska
B.S., Industrial Engineering, University of Nebraska

Learn more about Scarlett Miller.

Contact Elizabeth Gerber at 847-467-0607 or for further questions.