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Innovation In Engineering Design And Education

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Capstone Design Pedagogy I

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.738.1 - 15.738.9

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Paper Authors

author page

Howard Eisner George Washington University

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



This paper explores innovative approaches to both the engineering design process as well as education regarding engineering design. First, the engineering design process is discussed as a distinct two stage procedure involving (a) architectural design, and (b) subsystem design. The steps in these two stages are articulated and examined. Innovative aspects of the engineering

set forth by the author. These ways include (1) broaden and generalize, (2) crossover, (3) question conventional wisdom, (4) back of the envelope, (5) expanding dimensions, (6) removal of constraints, and (7) the systems approach. The final issue involves carrying these notions into education approaches to the engineering design. Examples are provided that demonstrate and explore how these innovative approaches have been used and how they might be expanded.


Engineers have been designing systems for a very long time. Accordingly, we have studied the design process itself for many years. A relatively recent way to describe that process is to confirm that it is, or should be, a distinctly two step procedure: architectural design followed by subsystem design. The latter has been more-or-less taken as axiomatic. The former has been somewhat controversial, taking different shapes over the years. For example, Buede1 has cited the following as the five functions of the engineering design of a system:

1. Definition of the design problem 2. Development of a functional architecture 3. Design of the physical architecture 4. Development of an operational architecture 5. Approval and documentation

This introduces the notion of multiple architectures, i.e., functional, physical and operational. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), in their treatment of architectures, cites a composite of the functional, physical and foundation architectures2. These three architectures are similar to, but not the same as, those suggested by Buede, as noted above.

A key marker for the definition of an architecture is the work of the Department of Defense (DoD) wherein they defined a framework for their approach (DoDAF) in the mid- 1990s3. That framework was built upon three views of an architecture, namely, (1) the operational view, (2) the systems view, and (3) the technical view. The specifics of these three views have been defined in quite a lot of detail. The most recent version of DoDAF (version 2.0) continues with this three view notion. Interestingly, the focus of the DoD has been on views of architectures, leaving some ambiguity (to some) with respect to the matter of how to precisely define and develop a system architecture.

Eisner, H. (2010, June), Innovation In Engineering Design And Education Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky.

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