Defining, Teaching, and Assessing Engineering Design Skills

Defining, Teaching, and Assessing Engineering Design Skills

Nikos J. Mourtos
DOI: 10.4018/ijqaete.2012010102
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The paper discusses a systematic approach for defining, teaching, and assessing engineering design skills. Although the examples presented in the paper are from the field of aerospace engineering, the principles apply to engineering design in general. What makes the teaching of engineering design particularly challenging is that the necessary skills and attributes are both technical and non-technical and come from the cognitive as well as the affective domains. Each set of skills requires a different approach to teach and assess. Implementing a variety of approaches for a number of years at SJSU has shown that it is just as necessary to teach affective skills, as it is to teach cognitive skills. As one might expect, each set of skills presents its own challenges.
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Defining Engineering Design Skills

What is Engineering?

To define the skills necessary for design engineers we need to start with the definition of engineering itself. Nicolai (1988) defines engineering as the design of a commodity for the benefit of mankind. Obviously, the word design is key to the definition of engineering. Engineers design things in their attempt to solve everyday problems and improve the quality of our lives. As Theodore Von Karman put it: A scientist discovers that which exists. An engineer creates that which never was.

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