Step 2: Defining the problem and the design criteria

Based on your analysis of the context, you should now have a set of underlying assumptions. Together these should help you identify the problem that you are going to address and define the design criteria against which you will make your decisions.

To define the problem, we’ve already done a lot of the hard work for you and identified some issues in each Challenge Area that you could choose to address.  We have developed these with our local partner organisation, who is permanently based in the local community. However, this is intended as a starting point. Through your analysis of the context you might have uncovered other issues that are important to the local population. You may also find that some issues can be addressed together. Whatever issue, or issues, you choose to work on, you will need to justify why you think they are important.

The next step is to develop your design criteria. Design criteria are the specific measures that should be satisfied for your idea to be successful.  You should remember that, consideration of economic, social and environmental factors is part of the Marking Criteria for the Engineering for People Design Challenge Grand Finals. We recommend that these form at least part of your design criteria alongside, for example, technological performance criteria.

To give you an idea of what we mean by design criteria for these three factors:

  • Economic criteria may include a need to consider realistic capital, operational and end of life costs, you might also consider economic opportunities or risks.
  • Social criteria may include positive or negative impacts on the local community, consideration of cultural norms, local capacity to implement and maintain the proposed idea, and, whether or not any proposed idea requires significant lifestyle changes that may make it hard to implement.
  • Environmental criteria may include consideration for any resource or materials choices and their associated environmental impact, pollution that may result from the proposed idea and whether this can be dealt with, and positive or negative impacts on local flora and fauna.