My OpenLearn Profile
- Personalise your OpenLearn profile
- Save your favourite content
- Get recognition for your learning
Engineering: The nature of problems
Engineering is about extending the horizons of society by solving technical problems, ranging from the meeting of basic human needs for food and shelter to the generation of wealth by trade. In this free course, Engineering: The nature of problems, we learn that engineers see the problems more as challenges and opportunities than as difficulties. What they appear to be doing is solving problems, but in fact they are busy creating solutions, an altogether more imaginative activity.
Course learning outcomes
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- view solutions as belonging to particular categories, broadly classified as: innovation by context; innovation by practice; routine
- see how external factors affect engineering projects, and appreciate the range of engineering involved in meeting the basic needs of our society
- recognise and apply a range of problem-solving techniques from each stage of the engineering design cycle, to include the following: physical modelling; mathematical modelling; iteration; use of reference data; refining an engineering specification
- identify when models are likely to be useful and when they are no longer valid
- recognise and distinguish between the following technical terms: differential equation; simultaneous equation; boundary condition; constraint; finite element analysis (FEA); mathematical model; physical model; prototype; demonstrator; anthropometric; ergonomic; product specification; functional specification.
First Published: 10/08/2012
You can start this course right now without signing-up. Click on any of the course content sections below to start at any point in this course.
If you want to be able to track your progress, earn a free Statement of Participation, and access all course quizzes and activities, sign-up.
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Problems and innovation
- 2 Where does the need arise?
- 3 Needs and problems
- 4 Looking for solutions
- 4 Looking for solutions
- 4.1 Advancing knowledge
- 4.2 From a need to a problem
- 4.3 Possible solutions
- 4.4 Evaluate solutions
- 4.5 Model the best solution
- 4.6 Assess and review
- 4.7 Build prototype/demonstrator
- 4.8 Assess and review again
- 4.9 Final implementation
- 5 A problem in bicycle design
- 6 A problem with sensors
- 7 Responsible engineering
Tags, Ratings and Social Bookmarking
Create an account to get more
Track your progress
Review and track your learning through your OpenLearn Profile.
Statement of Participation
On completion of a course you will earn a Statement of Participation.
Access all course activities
Take course quizzes and access all learning.
Review the course
When you have finished a course leave a review and tell others what you think.
Creative commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence.
However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions and our FAQs.
Full copyright details can be found in the Acknowledgements section of each week.
For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.Have a question?
Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.
If you are new to university level study, we offer two gentle introductory routes to our qualifications find out Where to take your learning next? You could either choose to start with an Access courses or an open box module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification.
Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.
About this free course
40 hours study
Level 2: Intermediate
Download this course
Free statement of participation on completion of these courses.