A Study of the Early-Stage Engineering Design Activities in Practice

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Obieke, Chijioke C. (1); Milisavljevic-Syed, Jelena (2); Han, Ji (3)
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: University of Liverpool; 2: Cranfield University; 3: University of Exeter
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 0405-0414
DOI number: https://doi.org/10.1017/pds.2023.41


The early-stage engineering design activities include conceptualising, identifying, and solving an engineering design problem. These activities are essential and standard roles of a design engineer. However, they seem to lack comprehensive practice within the engineering design community. In this study, semi-structured interviews conducted with 18 participants having engineering design backgrounds are presented. The aim of the interviews is to investigate the awareness and practice of the early stage engineering design activities. The participants interviewed practice in countries including France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Contrary to standard expectations, the results of the interviews show that the early-stage engineering design activities are not comprehensively practised. The results suggest that design engineers' crucial role in identifying unknown problems lacks practice. Also, the data from the interviews provide empirical evidence on the determinants for the lack of comprehensive practice of early-stage engineering design activities. Recommendations on possible interventions to support the practice are presented to expedite innovations and inventions.

Keywords: Design engineering, Early design phases, Design practice, Problem-solving, Problem-exploring

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