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Before beginning this chapter, look around you for a moment and notice how much of your environment has been designed by humans. Perhaps you are reading inside a building; people designed, engineered, and constructed it. This book has been designed; if you are reading it in a paper format, the paper, ink, and binding have been manufactured, while if you are reading it electronically, the computer on which you are reading has been designed and fabricated.

Almost every aspect of modern life depends on and is affected by technological artifacts such as bridges, buildings, vehicles, cell phones, computers, and so on. These technological artifacts are designed and created by engineers; the process by which engineers create is often called the engineering design process. ABET, the organization that accredits undergraduate university and college engineering programs, has developed the following definition of the engineering design process.

Engineering design is the process of devising a system, component, or process to meet desired needs. It is a decision-making process (often iterative), in which the basic sciences, mathematics, and the engineering sciences are applied to convert resources optimally to meet these stated needs.

Chapter Learning Objectives

After working through this chapter, you should be able to do the following:

  • Explain what a design process is.
  • Explain how engineering design differs from other design processes.
  • Explain the different steps in the engineering design process.
  • Apply each step of the engineering design process to design a product or process.
  • Describe how the implementation the design process affects the quality of the resulting design.

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