Blog 1: My personal experience with the engineering design process

After I started reading INTEGRATING INFORMATION into the ENGINEERING DESIGN PROCESS, edited by Michael Fosmire and David Radcliffe, I began to think about why certain ideas succeed while others fail miserably. Is success something we learn in the classroom? The world is full of brilliant people with brilliant ideas. We’ve all heard of successful smartphone apps like Uber, Waze, and Tinder. I’ve always wondered where these individuals started from and why their ideas succeeded. INTEGRATING INFORMATION into the ENGINEERING DESIGN PROCESS defines ten strategies for design success:

1.Define the real problem or need
2. Work as a team
3. Use the right tools
4. Communicate effectively
5. Get the concept right
6. Keep it simple
7. Make functions clear
8. Make safety inherent
9. Select appropriate materials and parts
10. Ensure that the details are correct

For the most part, I agree with these ten strategies for design success, but I think that the process can be simplified. After doing a little research, I found that different experts have different explanations for why a certain company succeeds. Entrepreneur Bill Gross explains that timing is the most important factor in his TEDTalk “The single biggest reason why startups succeed”.

If timing really is the most important factor in the success of a business, then is there even a way to teach the process of building a successful business? Classrooms of the future need to teach a clear and concise engineering design process in order to teach students how to design successful ideas. I wouldn’t call myself an entrepreneur, but after working in a startup this past summer in Israel I really began to understand the process of designing a successful project. This process is the process I believe classrooms of the future need to teach their students:

1. Find a problem or need that you’re interested in

Whether you go looking for one or stumble upon one on your own, every startup begins with a problem. We live in a world that’s constantly changing and with every change comes new problems. If you’re looking to start your own startup, you’ll want to find a problem that is relevant to you and your interests. Creating a solution to solve something you are interested in forces you to be more determined to help solve the problem.

2. Research the problem

Of course researching your problem is next. Maybe you aren’t the only one with this problem. Maybe someone else is trying to find a solution to it as well. Maybe there is a solution to it already. Talk to potential customers. Find out what’s already out there and figure out a way to make your product succeed.

3. Communicate effectively by asking questions and seeking guidance from others

The startup I worked at this past summer was located in what is called a “startup hub”. A startup hub is an office place where individuals with bright ideas can begin to develop a startup company. One of the unique parts about a startup hub is that they allow for the founders of different startups to get together, toss around ideas, and get feedback from others attempting to start their own company. Clearly, you will not have all the answers that will make your product succeed, so asking others is a great way to find out what will and will not work for your startup.