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.
I don't know if it counts toward looking attractive. But often how tough a device looks has something to do as well. The average consumer will shy away from a design that looks fragile, even if it can do the job. If it looks flimsy it might now sell.
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).
Ratsky: I couldn't agree more. Reality -- in the form of cost, longevity, reliability and ease of use -- are my keys to buying a product. In a sense, all of those could be traced back to cost, since unreliable products that wear out early tend to cost more in the long run.
The trick to Apple's success may be a simple as paying attention to the principles on this list. Apple's products pretty much tick off these considerations. Apple really hasn't come out with anything new, but they've done a great job of executing this list of engineering principles.
I think the most salient definition is the one on over design: What overeating does to a person, over-designing does to a product. The brilliance of Steve Jobs, who was not an engineer, is that he stood as a bulwark against overdesign. I suspect Apple's products will now suffer from overdesign as a consequence of his absence from the design process.
These are excellent points and provide guidelines that serve as a checklist for engineers and designers.I do think that we are aided today with solid modeling and computational methods that greatly shorten the design process, if used.One of the most fascinating technologies now in practice is computational engineering.This science combines engineering, mathematics and solid modeling to provide predictive solutions to designs that would generally require typical "cut and try" techniques.If I were younger (maybe much younger) and had it to do all over again, I definitely would explore all of the options with this technology.Bob Jackson, PE
PTC will offer a virtual desktop environment for its Creo product design applications, potentially freeing engineers to run them from remote desktops on a variety of operating systems and mobile devices.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.