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An introduction to design engineering
An introduction to design engineering

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1.6 Design is …

Some of the ideas presented on previous pages might be new to you and you might consider design in a slightly different way after thinking about them. A definition of design is not provided here because it is better for you to start developing your own understanding of it. Before moving on, there are a few last characteristics of design for you to consider.

Firstly, design is a process. It is something that people do with a specific aim or goal in mind. The process may not lead to a single perfect solution and part of that process might be to define what ‘solved’ means. But it is the journey that makes the difference. If you knew where the process was going to end up, then you wouldn’t need to design in the first place.

Secondly, design makes use of creative and analytical attitudes, approaches and skills. Using only creative methods or only analytical methods in a design process rarely leads to successful projects. But by applying both, the design engineer can draw on the most effective methods to approach complex challenges.

Finally, design has a purpose and creates change. It is an inherently practical pursuit – it is not only theoretical or imaginary. The output from the design process is the creation or change of some aspect of the world around us.

As you work through the rest of the course bear these three ideas in mind. You are expected to start to become a designer. In doing so you will be engaging in a process of analytical and creative activity – all with a view to making a change in the world around you.