The Design of Engineering

The Design of Engineering

Joseph William Pruitt (Slingshot Product Development Group, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-352-4.ch003
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The purpose of this chapter is to define the roles of engineering and design within the product development cycle looking at both the scientific and artistic methods used by the creators of new ideas. With the vastly different philosophies of product development between the engineer and the designer, the production manager is often faced with an ubiquitous tension that is frequently misdirected and mismanaged. The disparate design philosophies tend to force companies to pick either “science” or “art” in their development cycles which in turn creates either products that have no connection with human beings or products that cannot conceivably be produced on this planet. This chapter addresses these concerns and suggests methods in managing the creative insanity of successful product design.
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It’s four in the morning on a muggy Sunday night in North Jacksonville and I’m sitting in a Wal-Mart® parking lot with a few friends playing a game of Tidily Winks™, waiting for the Tire and Lube Express® to open. My buddy Theron is dominating all of us by a solid 50 points. We had driven the two hour stretch down I-95 from Savannah, Georgia earlier that night in hopes of finding adventure before taking Theron to the airport where he would catch a seven o’clock flight out to the west coast. Ka-thump, thump, thump! That’s the sound of a shredded tire. As we sat there waiting for the tire center to open, it came to me: “This is what it’s all about…the story.” It is the stories derived from experience that unite humans and give importance and understanding to our relationships with the world around us.

In the age of mass consumerism and knowledge at the press of a finger, people are searching for meaning in life beyond the stainless steel espresso maker that matches the kitchen sink and the lemon scented dish soap that “leaves hands feeling soft.” People want to have a connection with their belongings that transcends the functional and dives into the experiential (Norman, 2003). As extreme as it sounds, people want to create stories with the products they buy and the services they purchase, because stories are how people remember and remembering is where the true value lies. If all that was written in the last paragraph was a monologue about the pros and cons of oblique engineering in the automotive industry, probably half of the people reading this chapter would stop and the other half would fall asleep. It was the essence of a shared experience, a story, which kept the reader intrigued and fascinated with the outcome. The story was where the value was maintained and the experience understood. This value in the experience must be conveyed within business, between and among departments, if it is to be successfully implemented.

This value of the story is further elaborated by designer Scott Klinker, who says

Key Terms in this Chapter

Human Centered: A design philosophy where the functionality, purpose and aesthetic of a product or service is tailored to the needs, wants and desires of the user. Similar to the term User Centered coined by author Donald Norman in his book The Design of Everyday Things.

Poignant Dictator: A product development manager that oversees both engineers and designers helping them to communicate and facilitate efficient design solutions while still adhering to both the Engineering and the Creative Method of design.

Self Brand: The contrived image that an individual communicates to the world. The self brand can be anything from clothing and accessories to personalized web pages and social networking sites.

Rational Designer: A human centered designer that works within the creative method but is still sensitive to the constraints of the engineering method and strives to find a unified balance by creating solutions that help the engineer do his job more efficiently.

Sentimental Engineer: A logical engineer that works within the engineering method but is still sensitive to the importance of aesthetics, beauty and human interaction with the products that are being developed, striving to facilitate the designer to create objects that have meaning in the lives of people.

Creative Method: The somewhat abstract form of problem solving that relies heavily on the subconscious mind to draw connections and parallels between seemingly unrelated problems to form a unified, concrete design solution.

Creative Divide: The division in human thinking between the analytical, engineering based approach to problem solving and the human centered approach to problem solving.

Engineering Method: The analytical and logical approach to problem solving that uses science, mathematics and physics to define, analyze and solve issues in order to ultimately improve the existence of life on earth.

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