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what is engineering design

a systematic process used to solve complex problems, a non-linear process that often requires several iterations before a solution is found, the essence of all engineering disciplines


the 10 step engineering design process

identification of a need. problem definition. search. constraints. criteria. alternative solutions. analysis. decision. specification. communication.



1. 2.identification of a need

"there must be a better way", identified through customer surveys, changes in gov't regulations, marketing research, adverse effects caused by meeting other need, assignments/projects from superiors


2. problem definition

the goal is to understand the problem not to solve it. think about the need from the customer's point of view. what are the functions and features desired by customer


3. search

need to understand as much as possible about the problem in order to solve there are current solution? does it work? cost? will people pay for a better solution?


4. constraints

define practical limitations: cost, safety, efficiency, ease of manufacture, not over restrict as it will be difficult to find solution...limits to the design that are used to evaluate the possible solutions...aka upper & lower limits of boundary conditions


5. criteria

used to rank possible solutions, the attributes that the design must posses to be considered a success. the design team must agree on what criteria to use and decide the importance (or weight) of each.


6. alternate solutions 


commonl referred to as brainstorming. requires a clear problem def. uses the following ground rules: focus on quantity. withhold criticism. welcome unusuall ideas. combine and improve ideas 


7. analysis

each possible solution must be evaluated to determine its potential. mathematical and key engineering principles are used to gage the potential performance of each solution. engineering principles to remember: laws of nature, laws of economics, common sense. the criteria and constraints previously defined are also incorporated in the analysis process. may require modeling or building a prototype that can then be used in simulations or real world tests. 


8. decision 

requires knowing as much as possible about each alternative solution. uses the info collected during the analysis pahse. the goal is to select the solution that best fits all the selected criteria 


8.decision: the decision matrix

quantitative technique used to rank multi-dimentsional options. has the advantage of taking subjective opinions about one alternative versus another and making them more objective 


9. specification 

used to provide details about the chosen solution. 


10. communication 

now you and the team must "sell the design" to upper management, companies, investors, end user/customer, etc