This paper describes a study to understand the use of analogies by design engineers with different levels of experience. Protocol analyses of twelve design engineers have been analysed to understand the functions and reasoning of the analogies. The protocols are real world data from the aerospace industry. The findings indicate a significant difference in both the functions and reasoning by novices and experienced designers. Novices were found to predominantly transfer information without explicit reference to design issues, whereas experienced designers tended to either solve or identify problems. Experienced designers were found to reason about the function of a component and to some degree the predicted behaviour of the component, whereas the novices seem to lack such reasoning processes.

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