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Historical Lessons And Teaching Design

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.218.1 - 2.218.9



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Paper Authors

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John Tuttle

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3525


John Tuttle United States Merchant Marine Academy

The views expressed are the opinions of the author, and not necessarily those of the Department of Transportation or the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy.

Using all the available facts, from history when properly analyzed, can be of great value in teaching tomorrow’s designers. The way in which decisions were made and the success or failure of those decisions in service can be a guide for the future. Methods of analysis can be demonstrated against past events, particularly disasters. Students can see trend curves as the codification of the past, helping them to realize trend curves potential and limits. Finally, there are benefits of pointing out past errors if only to keep from repeating them or reinventing the wheel.

Ships are among the most complex systems created by man. Ship design is a creative activity, the development of an integrated system using data from previous designs and tools of varying degrees of sophistication. Advanced technology is or should be reflected in the designers' tools and in his designs. Currently most authors looking at the future of ship design activity focusing on the impacts of advanced technology (1) or total systems approaches (2), few, if any focus on the designer, the most important element in the process. These visions of the future may become reality, but superior results will not result if the design team is not well trained or experienced in the process. In the hands of the poorly trained or inexperienced, the computer and data bases foreseen in the technical literature will produce poor designs as quickly as good ones.

Senior, well-respected members of my professional community, naval architecture, are worried about education and training (3,4). It is noteworthy that the Lisnyk Prize, the SNAME student design competition is being won by a wide margin by teams from overseas. The judges in these competitions have been troubled by the poor quality of many of the American design projects submitted. Gale, attributes this in part to the lack of professional practice by many who teach design courses. On-the-job trends are equally disturbing. In the past the best designers learned more on the job than in formal courses. Such on-the job learning used to come from junior’s being mentored by experts critiquing their work. It also occurred when builders and operators provided feedback regarding deficiencies. For a multitude of reasons' designers today are not getting either of these kinds of feedback.

In my last assignment, I saw first hand the decline of this ability in the United States. An in- house design effort for a major ship program spanned almost twenty years and ended in failure. Shipbuilder’s who finally offered proposals chose not to conducted their own engineering, but hired foreign firms (5). Part of this foreign expertise was for a state-of-the-art shipboard electrical power generation and propulsion system. The supplier was to be responsible for its performance. We found all of the engineering expertise for these systems overseas. US

Tuttle, J. (1997, June), Historical Lessons And Teaching Design Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6596

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