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Measuring Qualities of Different Engineering Design Process Models: A Critical Review

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session


Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.893.1 - 24.893.25



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Paper Authors

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James Logan Oplinger Arizona State University


Micah Lande Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus

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Dr. Micah Lande teaches human-centered design innovation at Arizona State University and researches how engineers learn and apply a design process to their work. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering on Arizona State University's Polytechnic campus.

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Models for the Engineering Design Process: Why So Different? The engineering design process is a core piece of engineering and engineering education.Throughout various studies experts attempt to formulate the ideal design process for quickproduction time and innovation. Students are typically introduced to the process during their firstsemester of school and are taught several methods to improve upon their own design processmethods. These methods are represented in many models: structured and step models; iterativeand interactive webs; abstract process models; and mathematical models. Each type of model hasa purpose for particular uses and qualities. The engineering design process is a diverse method that engineers use in order to solve aparticular problem. The evaluated models come from various engineering journals and books.These process models are often seen in engineering courses and have applications in a real worldenvironment. In addition to these professional models we will include examples of studentdesign process models. The mixture of the two sources of design processes will hopefully add toinsights brought from this work. This paper will explore a variety of models for the engineering design process andevaluate the learning level that each process indicates. Design process models will be gradedhigh, moderate, or low on complexity, ease of use, appropriateness. Complexity will bemeasured as the degree of steps, iterations, interchanges, and size of a model. Ease of use will bemeasured as the ability to utilize a model with little prior knowledge. Appropriateness willmeasure whether a model is ideal for modeling the engineering design process. The ideal modelwill have moderate complexity, relatively high ease of use, and be appropriate.Once the general analysis is conducted each process is given a learning level. Learning levelswill be based on results of the other scales and will be graded as novice, intermediate, or expert.The learning level will be a reflection of how a model compares to other proposed ideas and keyconcepts. Several forms of these models were captured. These models have been grouped into thesecategories and analyzed for those strengths and usefulness. We began the analysis by detailingtools and scales used to rate various processes. From then the types of processes are divided intofour categories: structured and step models; iterative and interactive webs; abstract models; andmathematical models. In each category specific types of models are presented that branch fromthe broader categories. After all of the processes are analyzed and compared a preferred model isproposed, incorporating methods from several high scoring or unique models. Throughout theanalysis a basic design model is modified by integrating strengths of several types of models.From the analysis the key concepts that are kept are iteration and communication.

Oplinger, J. L., & Lande, M. (2014, June), Measuring Qualities of Different Engineering Design Process Models: A Critical Review Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22826

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