Principles of engineering design: teaching across disciplines

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This paper discusses the delivery of concept design principles across engineering disciplines, in particular between two programmes in engineering design and civil engineering. The paper discusses a 5-week conceptual design project undertaken by first year civil engineering undergraduates, delivered
from an interdisciplinary engineering design perspective and utilising a ‘wicked problem’ scenario. Key learning outcomes from the project were to enable students to demonstrate an appreciation of the environmental, economic, social, professional and interdisciplinary contexts, as well as scope and
purpose of civil engineering, in delivering sustainable development. The students were able to demonstrate an appreciation of how civil engineering fulfils its purpose through design as a process of individual and collective learning; by undertaking a team-based design project with high level
conceptual output, from creative visuals generated from AutoCAD and physical modelmaking using 3D printing and laser cutting. The students presented their design work to academic staff playing the hypothetical roles of different key stakeholders in the design process, as an engaging method of formatively assessing their learning outcomes. The project relies on very little to no understanding of engineering analysis; focusing instead on understanding stakeholder needs, creative output, and the principles of the conceptual design process in a civil engineering context. The outcome of the paper
highlights the differences between conceptual design processes across disciplines, and levels of problem complexity. A group design project with limited technical complexity proved effective in attainment of
high-level conceptual output and use of systematic methodology for analysing design options, whereas socio-economic and environmental considerations were explored in a wicked problem context
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2019
EventInternational Conference on Engineering & Product Design Education - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Sept 201913 Sept 2019
Conference number: 21


ConferenceInternational Conference on Engineering & Product Design Education
Abbreviated titleEPDE2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

Structured keywords

  • Engineering Education Research Group
  • Civil engineering, conceptual design, 3D printing, prototyping, problem-based learning, multi-disciplinary, CAD, hackspace, makerspace, wicked problems, creativity


  • Civil engineering
  • conceptual design
  • 3D printing
  • prototyping
  • problem-based learning
  • multi-disciplinary
  • creativity
  • CAD
  • hackspace
  • wicked problems


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