Previous studies have indicated that system level design (SLD) has a positive association with the outcome of engineering design projects. However, the causal relationship has not been established. This pilot study will explore the feasibility of implementing a laboratory experiment on design process and attempt to demonstrate a causal relationship between SLD and design outcome quality. Using outcome data from the pilot student laboratory exercise, a comparison between design processes that used SLD activities and those that did not are made using simple statistical testing methods. The results of this comparison support previous indications that SLD has an effect on outcome quality. The difficulties of constraining students performing SLD activities gave rise to an alternative method of analyzing SLD activities and lead us to conclude that our protocol is insufficient to test design process but is suitable for testing the application of a specific tool.

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