An Engineer's Alphabet of Thoughts on Design

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Importance of Appearance
Tool_maker   11/10/2011 12:37:29 PM
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.

Dave Palmer
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Dave Palmer   11/9/2011 6:04:41 PM
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).

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Re: Over-design
Baldrick   11/9/2011 5:50:24 PM

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.

Ralphy Boy
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Re: Over-design
Ralphy Boy   11/9/2011 4:44:19 PM
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.


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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!

TJ McDermott
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TJ McDermott   11/8/2011 10:11:36 AM
I admit to thinking "Look what I have wrought!" when my prototype works.

Charles Murray
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Charles Murray   11/8/2011 9:44:46 AM
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." 

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