Engineering design is all around us. It has been used to create everything from the chair you may be sitting on, to the device you are using right now to read these words. And yet, despite its ubiquity and importance, this field remains little understood. So much so, that the most common question related to this discipline is “What is engineering design?”
Read on to discover the answer to this question. First, we will analyze separately the concepts of “engineering” and “design”. Then, we will provide some examples to help you gain a deeper insight into this fascinating topic.
What Is Engineering?
Engineering can be defined as the use of creativity as well as mathematical and scientific knowledge to solve society’s needs and wants. The products of engineering are called “technologies”. Everything from apparently simple solutions, such as an improved knife handle, to very complex devices, like a smartphone, can be considered technologies.
What Is Design?
Design, on the other hand, can be broadly defined as the human activity whose conscious goal is creating a product that solves an open-ended problem. Open-ended problems can be solved in a variety of ways. For example, think of a logo, the quintessential example of a graphic design product. There are thousands (perhaps millions) of ways of satisfactorily conveying the corporate identity of a company. The designer’s job is coming up with one of those many acceptable solutions.
What Is Engineering Design?
Now that we have clear definitions of engineering and design, we can proceed to answer the question posed in the title. This term refers to the organized development and testing (through the use of creativity as well as mathematical and scientific knowledge) of products and processes that perform a desired function within specified limits.
The results of the engineering design process can be physical and three-dimensional, but also two-dimensional, like blueprints, or even digital, like computer software. Although this is a relatively recent term, some projects from the distant past are great demonstrations of engineering design skills, even by today’s standards. Some examples of engineering design include:
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