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An introduction to design engineering
An introduction to design engineering

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2 Inspiring design engineering

When you study and practise design, you are exposed to many ideas of what design engineering is. Many of the examples might be familiar to you, but some might be quite new or appear odd to be included as design engineering.

This is the real value of good design engineering: because it is not one fixed thing it can be applied creatively in different ways to any project in order to drive innovation.

Activity 1 Interesting design engineering

Timing: Allow 15 minutes to complete this activity

Watch the following video in which the T192 course team present some interesting examples of design engineering.

As you watch the video, use the list from Design is more than products and objects to note down which type(s) of design each example in the video might be:

  • product
  • specification
  • process
  • service
  • system.
Download this video clip.Video player: t192_2016j_vid001_640x360.mp4
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Six examples were presented by the course team. Here are a few notes on each; you may have come up with different observations and that’s absolutely fine. But see how your ideas compare to these notes.

Whole life cycle lighting design: this was an example of products (the light fixtures and fittings), systems (the control of the lighting components) and a service (a level of service to provide light). The focus in the example was on the service aspect and how continuous design consideration throughout the operation had improved energy efficiency.

Standardised components: the nut and bolt example showed how important specifications and systems are in producing these components. Such products have to meet a commonly agreed specification to ensure accurate and predictable replication of component parts.

Manufacturing and materials: the examples of chair designs showed the importance of manufacturing and materials in the design process. Design cannot take place without such considerations and it can even be inspired by new developments in both.

Digital prototyping: this is the process of creating something virtually, before physically making it. When used as part of an overall design process it can change how people design and how they work together in a project.

Roundabouts: the roundabout is an example of a product that is also part of a designed system (the road system), and perhaps even a process (of dealing with traffic at intersections). It shows how a change at the product level can make a change at the system level.

The extension to the V&A in London: the final example was about the complexity of modern design projects such as the new V&A extension in London. Making this a successful design requires a diverse set of people with a range of skills who all work collaboratively towards a common goal.