The engineering design process is a series of steps that engineering teams use to guide them as they solve problems. The design process is cyclical, meaning that engineers repeat the steps as many times as needed, making improvements along the way.
Two key themes of the engineering design process are teamwork and design. Encourage students to follow the steps of the design process to strengthen their understanding of open-ended design and emphasize creativity and practicality.
Click here for an engineering design process student handout and two sizes of classroom posters. (PDF includes 8.5 x 11” handout, 11 x 17” poster, 2 x 3’ poster)
First Step Ask: Identify the Need & Constraints
The first step is to Ask: Identify the Need & Constraints. Engineers ask critical questions about what they want to create, whether it be a skyscraper, amusement park ride, bicycle, or smartphone. These questions include: What is the problem to solve? What do we want to design? Who is it for? What do we want to accomplish? What are the project requirements? What are the limitations? What is our goal?
Next: Research The Problem
Next engineers Research the Problem. This includes talking to people from many different backgrounds and specialties to assist with researching what products or solutions already exist, or what technologies might be adaptable to your needs.
Imagine: Develop Possible Solutions is when engineers brainstorm ideas. You work with a team to develop as many solutions as possible. This is the time to encourage wild ideas and defer judgment! Build on the ideas of others! Stay focused on topic, and have one conversation at a time! Remember: good design is all about teamwork!
Click here for a brainstorming guidelines handout and two sizes of classroom posters. (PDF includes 8.5 x 11" handout, 11 x 17" poster, 2 x 3' poster)
For many teams, Selecting a Promising Solution is the hardest step! Revisit the needs, constraints and research from the earlier steps, compare your best ideas, select one solution and make a Plan to move forward with it.
Build a Prototype to make your ideas real! These early versions of the design solution help your team verify whether the design meets the original challenge objectives. Push yourself for creativity, imagination and excellence in design.
Test and Evaluate Prototype. Does it work? Does it solve the need? Analyze and talk about what works, what doesn't and what could be improved.
Improve: Redesign as Needed! Discuss how you could improve your solution. Make revisions. Draw new designs. Iterate your design to make your product the best it can be.
Repeat: Ask: Identify the Need