Step 3. Exploring lots of options

From your analysis of the context, your definition of the problem and identification of the design criteria, you can start to explore how engineering and your design ability could make a difference.

Explore what others have done in other parts of the world for inspiration. Arup Inspire can help you to find case studies from around the globe, and across a range of categories, themes and topics. These can also help to spark your own ideas, so spend time with your team inventing your own concepts. This is your opportunity to get creative.

When you’ve got lots of ideas, critically assess them against your design criteria to help you focus onto the idea that you will pursue, develop and recommend. This is normally an iterative process so be prepared to go back and forth. There are models and tools available to help you undertake this critical assessment, but you should use them in conjunction with your judgement. Judgement is a key skill for engineers and as a professional you will be expected to use it to come to sensible, justifiable decisions for which you can be held responsible. Now is a great time to start developing this skill. It will not be good enough to say the equation, or the tool, told you to make a decision(!), you will be relied upon to have understood the parameters and be confident that it was the best decision to make in the circumstances.

Top Tips:

  • Be aware that there is generally a compromise to be made between design criteria and you will need to decide which design criteria are more important than others. Your research into understanding the context should help you understand the relative value of each design criteria.
  • Develop an awareness of the limitations of your judgement in making these decisions and being sure to clearly outline the limits, this will often relate to the assumptions you originally made about the context.