Asee peer logo

Transdisciplinary Engineering Design Process: Tracing Design Similarities Through Comparison of Design Stages Across Engineering Disciplines

Download Paper |


2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Design in Engineering Education Division: Student Empathy & Human-centered Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Mehwish Butt University of Alberta

visit author page

Mehwish Butt, BSc., is a Graduate Research Assistant at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta. Her research area lies in Transdisciplinary Engineering Design Processes, Product Development and Evolution, Design interface across disciplines, and identifying the commonalities of design concepts across disciplines.

visit author page


Alyona Sharunova University of Alberta Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Alyona Sharunova, BSc., is an Education Consultant at the Faculty of Engineering and a former Research Assistant at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta. Her background is in Psychology, Design, and Educational Development. The scope of her work lies in Transdisciplinary Engineering Education, Design Processes, Teaching and Learning Methodologies, Cognitive and Educational Psychology, and Curriculum Design and Enhancement.

visit author page


Ahmed Jawad Qureshi University of Alberta

visit author page

Ahmed Jawad Qureshi, PhD., PEng., is an assistant professor at the University of Alberta, whose research interest lies in Concurrent Design Processes, Additive Manufacturing, Automation, and Computer Aided Design. Dr. Qureshi is a Principal Investigator of the Teaching Enhancement research project entitled Transdisciplinary Design Education for Engineering Undergraduates.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Design processes are an important component of engineering education. They teach early stage engineering undergraduates about the temporal and organizational nature of the design process and give them the first exposure to the basics of engineering design and its different stages. Currently, in many places, including the authors’ institution, engineering design processes are taught with a focus on teaching discipline specific design stages and their components. However, recent studies in the industry suggest that industrial engineering design processes across different discipline have a core of common transdisciplinary stages. These can be summarized as planning; concept development; system-level design; detail design; implementation and testing; and final production. Transdisciplinary engineering design enables a better understanding of the design process by transcending the barriers of discipline specific terminology. However, while efforts have been made to identify the commonalities amongst engineering disciplines in the industry, very little data is available for engineering education.

The current paper presents data from an empirical study that aims to identify commonalities between engineering design process education across engineering departments at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Engineering. In this paper, we validate the hypothesis that, despite the different terminologies, a conceptual similarity exists between the design stages of various disciplines, as they are taught. The study consists of 34 structured one-on-one interviews with engineering design professors from 4 engineering departments namely mechanical, chemical, civil, electrical and computer science. The data for this study was collected from 2 sections of the interview. The first section comprised open-ended questions designed to collect descriptions of the discipline-specific engineering design processes and their design stages. The second section was based on a cognitive game task designed to obtain a self-directed mapping of the discipline specific design stages on the proposed design stages. The stages thus obtained were unique yet generic enough to describe the design process at an abstract level. The results compare the design stages of pre- and post-mapped discipline-specific engineering design processes and highlight the existence of common concepts despite differing terminologies. It is also shown that given an opportunity, the participants are successfully able to map their process to the proposed reference design process.

Butt, M., & Sharunova, A., & Qureshi, A. J. (2019, June), Transdisciplinary Engineering Design Process: Tracing Design Similarities Through Comparison of Design Stages Across Engineering Disciplines Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33457

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: © 2019 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