Engineering Design

The engineering design process is a series of steps that engineering teams use to guide them as they solve problems. Anyone can do it! To determine how to build something (skyscraper, amusement park ride, bicycle, music player), engineers gather information and conduct research to understand the needs of the challenge to be addressed. Then they brainstorm many imaginative possible solutions. They select the most promising idea and embark upon a design that includes drawings, and analytical decisions on the materials and construction, manufacturing and fabrication technologies to use. They create and test many prototypes, making improvements until the product design is good enough to meet their needs.

Engineers use their science and math knowledge to explore all possible options and compare many design ideas. This is called open-ended design because when you start to solve a problem, you don't know what the best solution will be to meet the requirements. The process is cyclical and may begin at, and return to, any step.

The use of prototypes, or early versions of the design (or a model or mock-up) helps move the design process forward by improving your team's understanding of the problem, identifying missing requirements, evaluating design objectives and product features, and getting feedback from others.

Engineers select the solution that best uses the available resources and best meets the project's requirements. They consider many factors before they implement a design: Cost to make and use, quality, reliability, environmental consideration, safety, functionality, ease of use, aesthetics, ethics, social and cultural impact, maintainability, testability, ease/cost of construction and manufacturability. They also consider sustainability - how the development, use and ultimate disposal of the product might impact people and our planet.

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