June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Design in Engineering Education
12.689.1 - 12.689.21
Establishing Functional Requirements and Target Specifications: A Key Component of Product Development Projects
Two very important steps in the product development process are identifying customer needs and establishing functional requirements and target specifications for the product. Unfortunately, it is quite common in academic design projects to begin a project by giving to the students most of the functional requirements and target specifications for the product that they have to develop. Under that framework, the students are not actively involved in two key aspects of “real world” product development, namely identifying the needs of the customers and translating those needs into functional requirements and target specifications. If the customer requirements are not fully understood and adequately translated into required functions and quantifiable metrics and their corresponding target values, it is very unlikely that a successful product design will result from the development effort.
Setting target specifications is a challenging process and even experienced engineers sometimes have difficulties selecting metrics that adequately capture how well a particular customer need is met. Consequently, it is very important that students participating in design projects in product development courses learn structured methodologies to perform those tasks. To explore the benefits of such an approach, a formal process to establish functional requirements and target specifications for a product was introduced into a sophomore product development course, a senior capstone design course sequence, and a graduate level course in product development. In all cases, the students started the task of setting functional requirements and target specifications for the product after following a structured methodology to identify the customer needs. In this paper, the process followed, an assessment of the results obtained and suggestions for future improvement are discussed presenting examples taken from different projects carried out by students.
At the present time many undergraduate engineering programs in the US include one or more design courses aimed at better preparing students for the “real world” practice of the profession. In addition to the traditional Senior Design Project or Capstone-type courses that students must take during their last year, now freshman, sophomore and/or junior level design courses are also being incorporated into the curricula (see for example Starkey et al.1, Newman and Amir2, Wood et al.3, and Muci-Küchler et al.4). It has been recognized that, in general, engineering design involves more than applying sound technical knowledge to solve an “open-ended problem.” It typically encompasses all the tasks that must be performed to develop technical products and takes place in the framework of working in teams (most often multidisciplinary) following a structured approach. Although many faculty members teaching design courses have adopted a project-based learning strategy that fits this product development scenario (see for example Dutson et al.5, Catalano et al.6, and Muci-Küchler and Weaver7), in most cases not enough emphasis has been given to the activities of identifying the needs of the customers and other
Muci-Küchler, K., & Weaver, J., & Dolan, D. (2007, June), Establishing Functional Requirements And Target Specifications: A Key Component Of Product Development Projects Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2096
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