Solve the Problem: The Unique Steps of the Engineering Design Process

Inventing something that works well is a tough task. Engineers follow several unique steps in the design of a product. In this article, you learn the engineering design process steps of creating a product and solving the problems along the way.

The 11 Engineering Design Process Steps

Whether you are building a Rub Goldberg machine or designing a piece of software, the most effective method by which to solve a technical problem is the engineering design process. It serves as the most effective method by which to conceptualize, design, test, and manage the production of a product.

Unlike problem-solving with the scientific method, an engineering design process is a form of practical application project management. It incorporates these 11 steps, to bring a project through the planning stages to full-scale production:

Step 1: Understand

The first step in the engineering design process is to define the problem which you are solving. This step is the most important, as a faulty understanding of the problem at hand leads to design failures. Engineers work to identify the root problem by reverse engineering the symptoms they perceive.

Step 2: Explore

The second step is to perform background research on everything pertaining to the problem. Have others attempted the same thing in the past? What were the results?

The team deliberates over each part design and how it might be of benefit or hindrance. By doing research on the continuation circumstances of the problem, engineers gain background knowledge to aid in their endeavor.

Step 3: Define

The engineers determine the specifications of a possible solution. They define exactly what the solution will be without credence to the mode of completion. Each part of a solution is defined: Wish, Preferred, or Demand.

For an automobile engineer solving safety issues, seat belts are a demand, whereas bullet-proof glass is a wish.

Step 4: Ideate

Engineers formulate ideas, imagine design elements, and conceive of how the solution will be produced.

Step 5: Prototype

Using concepts from step 4, the engineers implement them into mock-ups and frameworks. These prototypes teach engineers valuable information on the functionality and effectiveness of their concepts to solve the problem.

Step 6: Choose

The team chooses a final concept from the prototypes. The final concept incorporates things that worked from all the prototypes. This stage produces a definite choice of design concept to pursue.

Step 7: Refine

Each piece of the solutions is refined through detailed design work. This stage works out the fine details of aesthetic and function. This stage is complete when all pieces of the concept are refined to the point that they can be implemented into the complete design.

Step 8: Present

The team presents their completed concept to peers and review boards for feedback and approval. Once the team is convinced in the viability of their concept it is ready for implementation.

Step 9: Implement

The engineers implement an approved design concept to the problem. This stage involves the practical application of a design solution to the actual problem.

Step 10: Test

Did it work? Test the solution extensively, to reveal hidden malfunctions and mistakes. Engineers keep extensive records of every test they perform, in order to substantiate their solution.

Step 11: Iterate

Engineers return to previous design steps in order to test and perfect the design solution. A project can cycle through the engineering design process steps multiple times before a design solution functions as required.

Final Thoughts

Engineers can alter the steps or skip them, depending on the nature of the problem they are solving or project they are working on. This process is useful for many problems, aside from mechanical engineering. Try implementing these 11 steps to solve your next design problem.

If you like learning about the engineering design process steps, share this article with a friend on social media. And visit our site to learn how to bring your project to life through 3D printing and more.

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