Asee peer logo

Informed Design As A Practical Problem Solving Approach

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Design in Manufacturing

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.761.1 - 11.761.7



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Christopher Tomasi Alfred State College

visit author page

Christopher J. Tomasi is Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology at SUNY Alfred State College of Technology. He has served on the leadership team of the New York State Professional Development Collaborative since its inception in 2003.

visit author page


Margaret Weeks

visit author page

Margaret "Peggie" Weeks is Project Director and Principal Investigator of the Advanced Technological Education/NSF funded New York State Professional Development Collaborative. She is Associate Director of the Center for Technological Literacy at Hofstra University.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Informed Design as a Practical Problem Solving Approach


The informed design process was developed as an analytical road map for students to follow when proceeding through an engineering design challenge. This practical problem solving format affords students the ability to refine the constraints and parameters of a design challenge, make the required design decisions and communicate their conclusions graphically via the creation of working industrial drawings, construct working prototypes, perform computational analysis, prepare laboratory reports, and present their conclusions.

In order for educators to provide the requisite skills and abilities that industry requires from graduates of post-secondary engineering technology programs, students must develop the ability to analyze and validate a myriad of considerations during the product design and development phase of a design challenge. This should not be limited to interpreting design requirements and customer specifications, but should also include exposure to applicable codes and standards, intended and unintended modes of usage, hazards of human and non-human origin, ethical concerns, and any internal or external influences that might impact the final product’s design. This can all be accomplished by having students follow the principles of the informed design cycle in conjunction with the expectation that students will use scientific and mathematical principles to derive design challenge solutions.

The informed design process provides an excellent opportunity for students to develop time management skills, conduct brainstorming sessions, and foster small group team based dynamics. These skills are required not only of future engineering technologists, but of anyone seeking employment in an ever-changing global community.


Design has long been a central theme in engineering and engineering technology curricula. When asked, "what do engineers do?" the typical response is "they solve problems." In that context, design plays a huge role. In recent years, ABET has emphasized the importance of design1; and the engineering education community has risen to the challenge of finding creative ways to incorporate design into its programs at all levels.

The incorporation of design into academic programs is not limited, however, to post-secondary engineering and engineering technology. The International Technology Education Association (ITEA), with publication of its landmark Standards for Technological Literacy (STL)2, is encouraging the learning of design for all K-12 students. In fact, STL devotes an entire chapter to "Design" that outlines standards for students to develop an understanding of the attributes of design; of engineering design itself; and of the role of troubleshooting, research and development, invention and innovation, and experimentation in problem solving. The technology education community has, in turn, risen to the challenge of developing effective instructional resources for design at the K-12 level. An impressive example of this is Burghardt and Hacker's middle school textbook, Technology Education: Learning by Design3.

Tomasi, C., & Weeks, M. (2006, June), Informed Design As A Practical Problem Solving Approach Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--55

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015