Does A deeper level of empathy help high school engineering students generate more innovative consumer products?
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Secondary level engineering education is a relatively new field of study. This report evaluates an activity in which high school students experience simulated disabilities as they interact with and redesign consumer products. These activities are also known as empathic experiences, in which the designer is challenged to place himself or herself in the position of a lead user who pushes a product to its extremes and experiences various customer needs sooner and more acutely than the typical user. The purpose of this study is to determine whether or not these types of empathic experiences help high school students develop more innovative product ideas in a concept generation activity. The results of this study are compared with similar studies that use college students for the subject pool. Differences between subject pools are examined to identify implications for secondary engineering education and assessment.