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."
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
A middle school team from Rochester, Mich., has again nabbed the grand prize in the annual international Future City Competition, which drew students from 37 regions of the United States, as well as from England and China.
The word “smart” is becoming the dumbest word around. It has been applied to almost every device and system in our homes. In addition to smartphones and smart meters, we now hear about smart clothing and smart shoes, smart lights, smart homes, smart buildings, and every trendy city today has its smart city project. Just because it has a computer inside and is connected to the Web, does not mean it is smart.
Are you being paid enough? Do you want a better job? According to a recent survey Manpower released just before Engineers Week, employers and engineers don't see eye-to-eye about the state of US engineers' skills and experience.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.