Conventional engineering education in Japan encourages students to widen knowledge built upon work and research by our predecessors. Such education has been effective in producing design improvement for higher efficiency and performance, however, not so in coming up with innovative ideas. Building products from within common knowledge cannot surpass the consumer expectation. We earlier reported about our collaboration between mechanical and industrial engineering educators in finding similarities and differences in the designers’ approaches in the two fields. Industrial designers, like mechanical designers, strive to meet the voice of customer (VOC) by dividing and conquering functional requirements. They also, unlike mechanical engineers, place the starting point of new designs outside the knowledge domain in efforts to define products that surpass consumer expectations. We call the starting point a discomforting seed. This paper reports our experience in educating foreign and native graduate students in mechanical engineering to have them recognize the discomforting seeds.

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