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.
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).
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.
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."
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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