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.

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, and tools that help you make assessments based on multiple criteria are often known as ‘multi-criteria assessment tools’. However, you should always use these tools in conjunction with your own 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. It will not be good enough to say the equation or the tool you used told you the answer. You will be relied upon to have understood the parameters, any limitations of such a tool and be confident that it was the best decision to make in the circumstances. Now is a great time to start developing this skill as judgement is something you develop over time and through experience of working on many different projects.

Top Tips:

  • Be aware that there is generally a compromise to be made between design criteria. You may need to decide which design criteria are more important than others and place more weight on those criteria. 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in making these decisions and being sure to clearly outline the limits, this will often relate to the assumptions you originally made about the context.

Step 1: Analyse the context

This step will guide you through the research you will need to carry out to build upon your understanding of the challenge, before proposing any design ideas.

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Step 2: Define the problem

This is where you identify the problem that you are going to address, and define the design criteria against which you will make your decisions.

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Step 4: Justify your recommendation

This step will support you in justifying and communicating your design to a variety of audiences from your team members to a panel of judges.

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