Engineering Design as Research

Engineering Design as Research

Timothy L.J. Ferris (Defence and Systems Institute, University of South Australia, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0179-6.ch020
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Research is defined as an activity that creates new knowledge. This is often misunderstood in the engineering community as necessarily requiring a scientific contribution that advances the theory of some matter related to engineering materials or processes. Consequently, typical engineering research projects investigate physical phenomena thought likely to be interesting in potential applications or to describe the characteristics of processes used in engineering work. The results of such projects provide a fragmented, abstracted view of the phenomena investigated, which is difficult to use in engineering decision making related to contextualised situations. This chapter shows how the actual design of engineered artefacts is research because it provides knowledge of the impact of the integration of various elements of existing knowledge, which demonstrates the properties of the designs achieved through the design work and leads to discovery of solutions to the various challenges of integration discovered through the project which attempts to achieve the integration.
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We present now a discussion of the nature of knowledge which is necessary to develop a top-down approach to the evaluation of methods of research. We review some recent distinctions in the description of knowledge.

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