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An Engineer's Alphabet of Thoughts on Design

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Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Over-design
Charles Murray   11/8/2011 9:44:46 AM
NO RATINGS
The comparison between over-design and over-eating is appropriate. There are hundreds of wristwatches, mobile phones and even PCs that are larded with extra features and software that seem to serve little purpose other than to cause unnecessary complexity. Someone needs to offer a class, "Slim Fast Product Design 101." 

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Prototype
TJ McDermott   11/8/2011 10:11:36 AM
NO RATINGS
I admit to thinking "Look what I have wrought!" when my prototype works.

Woody@DDLLC
User Rank
Iron
Judgement
Woody@DDLLC   11/9/2011 9:32:04 AM
Great A-Z overview on design! I would only add to judgement: Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement!

Ralphy Boy
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Over-design
Ralphy Boy   11/9/2011 4:44:19 PM
NO RATINGS
This slimming down the design has been a slow process for me to get a handle on. I will still at times go for a beefy look just because I want that look and not because the added strength or weight is important to the final function.

"Failure. This thing that designers want most to avoid should always be first and foremost in their mind. Otherwise, how could they design against it?"

I will allow that this includes 'Failure to design saftey in first'... Always at the top of my list.

 

Baldrick
User Rank
Iron
Re: Over-design
Baldrick   11/9/2011 5:50:24 PM
NO RATINGS

Failure is a part of life and should always be regarded as an opportunity, something we must learn from.

 

Harmony is a lesson in stagnation. Discourse and dissent are the signs of a great team.

 

Neatness is a sign of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), avoid these people at all costs.

Dave Palmer
User Rank
Platinum
Constraints
Dave Palmer   11/9/2011 6:04:41 PM
NO RATINGS
Not long ago, I judged a student engineering project at my alma matter.  One team of students had the task of coming up with a solution to a manufacturing problem. (This was a "real world" project sponsored by a local company).  The solution they ultimately came up with, I thought, was a pretty good one.

Prior to hitting upon this solution, they came up with a number of other interesting ideas; however, these ideas were unworkable within the constraints of the manufacturing process.

When I asked the students about some of these rejected ideas, their response was basically, "Well, it was a good idea, but the company didn't like it for some reason, so we had to come up with something else." They didn't seem to be willing or able to think critically about the constraints of the process - or why something which might otherwise be a brilliant idea might not work in a given context.

Given that being able to think intelligently about the constraints of a system is one of the most important outcomes of an engineering education, I graded the students down for this.

(For what it's worth, they won the competition anyway).

Tool_maker
User Rank
Platinum
Importance of Appearance
Tool_maker   11/10/2011 12:37:29 PM
NO RATINGS
Just as really attractive people are able to usually get the benefit of doubt, so too do attractive devices have the user trying to look for what is right rather than what is wrong. Should not be the case, but it is.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Over-design
William K.   11/10/2011 8:50:59 PM
Right On Baldrick. Neatness is certainly a sign of inability to do anything else worthwhile.

OhmsLaw
User Rank
Gold
S is for Standards and Specifications
OhmsLaw   11/10/2011 11:51:22 PM
NO RATINGS
Although sketches are useful, it is perilous to begin a design with sketches before having created a full list of all the technical requirement Specifications. A design cannot be great unless it is Specified, Tested and validated against those Specs.  I would classify sketches under I for Imagination or R for Realization.

Ratsky
User Rank
Platinum
R for REALITY
Ratsky   11/11/2011 1:23:34 PM
NO RATINGS
Reality is always at the very top of my list.  It includes so many of the other items as representing aspects of the real world of engineering and design.  Economics (costs and cost/benefit ratio), legal concerns, constraints of all kinds, recognition of the limits of models and simulations, market considerations, and so forth.  Dreaming is a starting point; implementation is where the rubber hits the road, and that will succeed only with an approach recognizing all of these real-world aspects.  This is one of the greatest shortcomings of engineering education today: students are not taught about the real world (neglect of so many fundamentals, especially physics and related areas like thermodynamics).

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