Asee peer logo

Work in Progress: On Teaching Requirements in Engineering Design

Download Paper |


2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Design Pedagogy

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Alexander Pagano University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

visit author page

Alex Pagano is a PhD student studying engineering design. His work is focused on the early phases of design and the use of human-centered design or design thinking as a teaching tool. Alex holds a BS in Materials Science and Engineering from University of Arizona and a MS in Mechanical Science and Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

visit author page

Download Paper |


Engineering design is comprised of open-ended and ill-structured problems where the nature of tasks changes as progress is made. To effectively address these challenges, learners must build knowledge, skills and abilities in problem identification and articulation as well as problem solving. The early phases of design, when the need is clarified and objectives are set, are critical and mishandling them is a leading cause of project failure. When developing requirements, engineers must communicate with a wide variety of stakeholders to understand and document their needs, then synthesize these to a set of specifications for the system to be designed. These specifications or requirements are often the basis for project planning and are used as metrics to evaluate and select design concepts, therefore mistakes and errors at this stage have significant repercussions. However, industry reports on the skillsets of new engineering graduates entering the workforce emphasize a lack of communication skills, especially with nontechnical audiences. Without receiving significant training in early design phases such as requirements development, novice designers tend to skip directly to attempting to solve a problem without first seeking to understand it by gathering information and other resources to adequately frame the challenge. Unfortunately, the project-based learning pedagogies which are used to teach engineering design often bypass these early phases as open-ended projects may not stay aligned to the learning objectives of the course. To better prepare graduates, engineering design courses should provide learners with opportunities to practice requirements development and to engage meaningfully in the social and communicative aspects of design. This paper presents findings from a review of literature that discusses requirements development and associated pedagogies and combines various perspectives from systems engineering, software engineering, human-centered design and design thinking, and others. Insights from this literature review are used to highlight gaps and opportunities to support teaching and assessing requirements development in undergraduate engineering design.

Pagano, A. (2021, July), Work in Progress: On Teaching Requirements in Engineering Design Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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: © 2021 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