Design Thinking

Engineers use design thinking in a solutions-focused, human-centered way to creatively problem solve and innovate throughout the engineering design process. Design thinking is a way of looking at and tackling real world problems that we experience in our everyday lives, and greatly need solutions for— especially the world’s “wicked problems” that are not well defined or have clear answers , such as climate change.

Design thinking is a fluid way of reasoning to purposefully devise solutions for difficult problems rather than a series of trial-and-error steps. Design thinking is also a valuable life skill—like reading and numeracy—that can be learned and perfected with practice, and applies to a wide range of careers.

Engineers take time to observe, infer and apply their breadth and depth of knowledge to thoughtfully frame a problem within the limits of available time, money, and resources.

Engineers incorporate their personal experiences and intellect with empathy and understanding for all stakeholders to develop human-centered products or services.

The unknowns and limitations of a problem, especially “wicked problems”, offer engineers opportunities to be creative in developing innovative and practical solutions.

Engineering team members bring their own perspective and collective expertise together to scope problems and negotiate desirable, feasible and viable solutions to problems.

After generating ideas and gathering information about a problem, the rapid and rough creation of sketches and models (prototypes) inspire engineers to visualize options and inform possible solutions.

Engineers test many versions of their prototypes as they develop, implement, and evaluate possible solutions - which over time improves their understanding of the problem.

Assessing and talking through iteration cycle outcomes allows engineers to simultaneously and repeatedly define and refine both their understanding of the problem and ideas for solutions.

Engineering Design Process

Formulating Problems
Seeking Solutions
Thriving in Uncertainty
Collaborating Constantly
Prototyping Ideas
Iterating Options
Reflecting Frequently

Design Thinking student handout

Design Thinking 11x17 poster

Design Thinking 24x36 poster

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