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The Engineering Design Process

The Engineering Design Process outlines the steps necessary in solving any type of engineering problems. Girls Get SET teams were introduced to the design process in April during a workshop at Tufts, and followed these steps throughout their project.

The Engineering Design Process is not a linear process. Sucessful engineering requires going back and forth between the six main steps.

Step 1: Define the Problem
This step begins by asking yourself: what do we need? and what are the criteria and goals?. Find out more about the problem by doing some background research, then make a clear problem statement.

Step 2: Generate Possible Solutions
Coming up with possible solutions require brainstorming. Be creative, and use methods to promote creative thinking (such as sketching, mind mapping).

Step 3: Evaluate Possible Solutions
For each of the possible solutions generated in step 2, ask yourself, "does the solution meet the design requirements?" If necessary, list out the strenghts, weaknesses, opportunites, and threats for each idea, or make a list of advantages and disadvantages. Select the best idea to take to the next step.

Step 4: Make and Test Models
This step is called prototyping. Constructing the model begins with making drawings by hand or on a computer. The model can be constructed to real size or on a smaller (or sometimes larger) scale, or a computer model can be generated. The models are tested for performance, usability, and durability.

Step 5: Modify and Improve Solution
In this step, you need to evaluate the results from testing the model. If the design needs to be fixed or improved, go back to step 2 to come up with a new set of possible solutions. If you decide that more testing is needed, go back to step 4. In the worst case scenario, you may have to go back to the first step and start from scratch again.

Step 6: Communicate Final Design
After your design has gone through multiple cycles of modeling, testing, and improving, it is ready for final hand-off. Communication of the final design may be done through presentation to peers, customers, and to the public. If necessary, you may also need to prepare documentations such as assembly instructions, operation and maintenance information, and technical drawings.




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