Formulating and solving engineering problems and designing solutions that meet the established requirements are important skills that graduating engineering students need to possess. However, there are noticeable gaps in the literature with respect to understanding how the formulation of design problems and establishment of requirements affect the final design solution in undergraduate design education. This paper is an initial step to understand the influence of level of detail of problem statement and requirements on the level of detail of final solution in capstone design projects. In doing so, a document analysis of final reports from capstone design class collected over a period of ten years, 1999 to 2008, is conducted. A data compression approach is developed to allow for the mapping of level of detail of problem statement and requirements to the level of detail of final solution. The findings of this research indicate that a low level of detail problem statement and requirements leads to no greater than a medium level of detail in the final solution. A high level of detail of final solution is more likely to result from either a high or medium level of detail of problem statement and requirements. Additionally, it was found that a high level of detail final solution is more likely to result in a high percentage of requirements satisfied. These findings are used to make several recommendations to improve the level of detail of the problem statement and requirements so a high level of detail final solution is developed while satisfying a great number of requirements. This assists in ensuring that students possess the skills needed before entering the professional workforce.

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