Integrating ‘Designerly’ Ways with Engineering Science: A Catalyst for Change within Product Design and Development

Integrating ‘Designerly’ Ways with Engineering Science: A Catalyst for Change within Product Design and Development

Ian de Vere (Swinburne University of Technology, Australia) and Gavin Melles (Swinburne University of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1945-6.ch005
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The fields of design and engineering both contribute to product design and development. Increasingly design teams require an integrated approach in environments where mutual understanding and respect replace traditional professional rivalries. These new synergies both enhance communication and understanding between designers and engineers and lead engineering into new areas of professional activity. Engineers are integral to the product development process, but change in product development and manufacturing requires new responsibilities; design engineers must assume a greater role to achieve successful product realisation. However, to be effective engineers must develop new skills; creative design ability, understanding of societal and environmental impacts and a human-centred approach. These themes, not typically addressed by engineering curricula are evident in a new approach to engineering education - product design engineering. This chapter addresses issues confronting product design and development and examines the emergence of this new engineering professional in response.
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It has been observed that the boundaries between the design and engineering can inhibit both innovation and successful product realisation, particularly in the product design and development milieu. “These two mindsets often clash as one seeks to broaden the scope of the problem, while the other is working to achieve closure.” (Fry, 2006)

In Engineering Design Methods: Strategies for Product Design, Nigel Cross notes that “the increasing competition for consumer markets and the growing awareness of the importance of design for the market has led to reinforcement of the view that successful design can only be accomplished by an integration of the skills of both engineering and industrial designers.” (Cross, 2000)

This trend is evident both in the traditional industrial design consultancy and in the manufacturing sector where there is increased demand for engineers who can operate effectively in a variety of environments within global multidisciplinary teams. Engineers, particularly those in product design and development, are now expected to creative, flexible and adaptable, responsible and human-centred designers. “In this evolving world, a new kind of engineer is needed, one who can think broadly across disciplines and consider the human dimensions that are at the heart of every design challenge.” (Grasso & Martinelli, 2007)

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