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Engineering Design Process Blog Post

The engineering design process shown in the following circular figure. It illustrates that engineering design is a ten-step process that starts with identifying a problem on a need, researching to create design criteria or requirements, find possible solution alternatives, compare them to the criteria, this may involved breaking a complicated problem down into subsystems, having a design review to identify potential issues and then implement and test the design. It is iterative and may require several cycles to converge on a design that satisfactorily meets the design requirements and criteria. It is also possible that there may be some steps skipped in some of the cycles. How does this relate to the open source hardware process for academics?

There are so many opportunities for an open source academic in this process. The first being that by sharing ideas and a design, feedback can help with alternatives or during the design review to improve components, subsystems or the entire design. By sharing your work with the larger community, it is possible to more quickly get feedback but also more diverse and hopefully better feedback. Open source affords cycling through the process quicker and more often by observing what others yield from the intellectual property. It also illustrates a real world application of the engineering design process that you teach your students in the context of what you do as a professor each and every day.

I have no delusions that my open source mobile robot platform is a perfect solution to robotics for the streets, from service, to education, to research. However, I am confident that by making it openly available to the STEM community as a whole instead of waiting for publication, patents, conference papers, or journal articles, I can more quickly improve upon it and get the substantive feedback that I need to ensure that it meets my goals, design requirements and criteria.

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