Engineering Design Process

The engineering design process is a series of steps that guides engineering teams as they solve problems. The design process is iterative, meaning that engineers repeat the steps as many times as needed, making improvements along the way as they learn from failure.

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.

For more ideas, check out the fourth-grade Introduction to Engineering unit, or for older students, explore the Creative Engineering Design unit. Look for the “partial design process” and “full design process” badges as you browse the TeachEngineering digital library.

Help your students follow the Engineering Design Process steps with the TE Engineering Design Process handout, 11x17 poster and 24x36 poster.

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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?
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.
You work with a team to brainstorm ideas and 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! Help students understand the brainstorming guidelines by using the TE handout and two sizes of classroom posters.
For many teams this 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.
Building a prototype makes 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.
Does it work? Does it solve the need? Communicate the results and get feedback. Analyze and talk about what works, what doesn't and what could be improved.
Discuss how you could improve your solution. Make revisions. Draw new designs. Iterate your design to make your product the best it can be.

And now, REPEAT!

Engineering Design Process Ask Research Imagine Plan Create Test Improve