Unit 1: Intro to Engineerin g WHAT IS IT? WHAT DO ENGINEERS DO & HOW DO THEY DO IT? Bell Work Create a list of things in the classroom that have been engineered. List as many as you can in 90 seconds. Compare your list with the people at your table. What do you notice?
EVERYTHING HAS BEEN ENGINEERED! What is Engineering? Definition: the application of practical & scientific knowledge to a methodical problem solving process. Methodical: the orderly or systematic performance of a task. Problem solving Can take many forms: a physical thing, improving a process, determining why something happened the way it did, etc. Engineers use scientific knowledge and find a practical application for it to benefit humanity. Example: a product design problem a bracket that mounts a TV to a wall (see image above)
What is Engineering? In order to design the above bracket to mount a TV to a wall, an engineer would need a wide variety of background knowledge. They might need to draw on knowledge of Classical mechanics to determine the forces the TV would exert on the bracket. Structural design to figure out a bracket capable of withstanding the forces. Manufacturing processes that are required to make the bracket, and design it so it can actually be produced. types of surfaces it would mount to, and the screws & nuts that would be used to mount it so they can determine
what screws to use and how many screws are required to keep the bracket from falling off the wall. how the bracket would be installed by the final customer and create a good user experience, as well as knowledge of how the bracket would be used after it is installed (to be a good product, does it need to tilt up and down? Does it need to tilt left and right?). some knowledge of TVs; to be a good product, the bracket will hopefully be able to mount a wide variety of television sets are there any standards TV manufacturers design for which would allow for universal mounting? This knowledge is all necessary to engineer and design the best possible solution. Where do engineers learn all this stuff? Higher education to become an engineer, one must complete a degree program from an accredited engineering college in the field they which to practice in. Training, or on-the-job experience: For example, a young engineer may be taught about types of fastening hardware (nuts & bolts) from a more experienced engineer during their first few years of
work. What do Engineers do on a daily basis? MOST of what engineers do can fall into four categories: Analysis, Problem Solving, Planning, and Communicating. Every engineer's day will consist of a different mix of these functions, depending on their role, level, industry, and interest... What do Engineers do on a daily basis?
Jim - Cement Industry, Pennsylvania, USA I'm a manager for engineering projects and feasibility studies. I use my engineering experience, but not in a well-defined way. I had a typical day last week and it went like this: On the phone with Teresa in Torino. She is not happy with the cost estimate my department gave her for a new plant that her office would like to build. We talked about ways to accomplish the project objectives for less money. After phone calls with people in Milwaukee, Saint Louis, and Galveston, I decide that our barge full of new equipment for the Minnesota project should come up the Mississippi with its own tug, and not tie on to another string of barges headed the same way. The potential insurance liability outweighs the cost savings. For the rest of the day, met with Fred and Charles in our offices to debate various ways to design Teresa's potential new plant in Italy. This is a wide-open brainstorming session with no firm conclusions, except that
Fred will assign a couple of engineers to work with me to investigate a couple of options. What do Engineers do on a daily Scott - Semiconductor Industry - Massachusetts, USA basis? To put my job into a single sentence, I figure out how to arrange transistors and wires to make them perform useful work. I do that by writing code in a Hardware Description Language (HDL). Even though the HDL model is my main responsibility, I probably only spend 5-10 hours per week writing code for it. The majority of what I do all day, every day is communicate. Most days have at least an hour of meetings plus a good hour or two of email. The rest of my time is spent investigating problems found by HDL simulation. Once the cause is identified, a fix has to be designed, implemented, and tested. Doing these bug fixes involves working
with one to ten or sometimes even more other engineers, depending on the severity of the problem and the amount of change required to fix it. I just have one of many different jobs in microchip design. We all work closely together to deliver the components that go into your new phone, netbook, server, coffee maker, car, furnace, or pretty much anything else. What do Engineers do on a daily Danbasis? - Diesel Engine Manufacturing - Illinois, USA I work as a research and test engineer for a major engine manufacturer. Currently, my project entails a lot of engine testing, so I am mostly doing field work in the engine labs. When the data collection is finished, I am the one who analyzes the results and puts them in a nice form using programs like Excel and MATLAB. Occasionally, we have a failure on the engine, and its my job to determine both why the part failed and what we have to do to ensure it won't fail again. If
it happens, it quickly becomes the highest priority and ends up taking up all of my time. A good portion of my day away from the test engine is spent sorting through the engine data for a variety of reasons. If Im not staring at the data, I am discussing with my boss and overall group the data and how the testing is going. Fortunately for me, this usually isn't a lot of formal meetings, since we are a small group. As the project progresses, I also write the status reports on the engine and testing. I find that although this part of my day isn't the largest (in time), it definitely ends up being the most important. What do Engineers do on a daily basis? Justin - General Contracting/Construction Management - International My formal title is Project Engineer. In the broadest sense, I bring the knowledge and problem solving
ability of an engineer into the field office at whatever jobsite I happen to be working on. I don't really do a lot of calculations or design; rather, I take the information I get from the superintendent or the subcontractor and relay it to the designers that did that work before the project began. Day to day, an engineer in my position spends the vast majority of his time communicating. This can be as simple as a conversation with the field personnel talking through possible ways to perform the task to something as complicated as a formal meeting with minutes and presentations and the like. If there is an issue, the project engineer is the primary conduit through which it gets communicated to the designer and how the solution gets back to the guys performing the work. The engineer needs to have a solid grasp of the problem to properly communicate it up the chain and an understanding of the solution provided, both to determine if it solves the problem and to communicate it to the people doing the work. One final thought to leave you with; the days of the solitary engineer working through a project or problem alone are gone. Today, 99% of all engineers work as a member of a team, whether made up of only engineers or a cross-disciplinary team of engineers, specialists and business people. Hone your skills at writing and get better at public speaking. These are skills you will need if you plan on moving forward in
this industry. What is Design? The term design was mentioned above, but what exactly does this mean? When it is said engineers design a bracket what is being described? Design is defined in the dictionary as follows: To conceive of fashion in the mind; invent To formulate a plan for; devise To plan out in a systematic, usually graphic form To create or contrive for a particular purpose or effect To create or execute in an artistic or highly skilled manner A simpler definition might be: Design is thinking of and creating something new, or adapting something old to solve a problem and/or satisfy a need. One should note that this definition has the key words problem solving again.
Disciplines of Engineering There are many different types of engineers, each specializing in a different field of knowledge, each with a specific set of problems they specialize in solving. There are almost as many fields of engineering as there are fields of scientific inquiry! Some examples are listed below. Keep in mind that this list is not allinclusive. Acoustical Engineering Aeronautical Engineering Aerospace Engineering Agricultural Engineering Architectural Engineering Automotive Engineering Biological Engineering Biomechanical Engineering Biomolecular Engineering
Ceramic Engineering Chemical Engineering Civil Engineering Computer Engineering Control Engineering Heating, Venting, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineering Electrical Engineering Metallurgical Engineering Process Engineering Electronic Engineering Mining Engineering Structural Engineering Energy Engineering
Molecular Engineering Systems Engineering Environmental Engineering Nano Engineering Thermal Engineering Industrial Engineering Naval / Ocean / Marine Transportation Engineering Manufacturing Engineering Engineering Materials Engineering Nuclear Engineering Mechanical Engineering Optical Engineering
Mechatronics Paper Engineering Petroleum Engineering Plastics Engineering Power Engineering What does that have to do with this class? This curriculum will discuss a few concepts which are relevant to ALL of these types of engineering, and touch on others more specifically related to the field of robotics including Robotics Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and others. So what happens if the problem being solved is so large and complicated that it involves more scientific and practical knowledge than any one engineer can understand? This happens all the
time! This is why engineers commonly work together as part of a Design Team. Reflection Questions Choose one of the engineering disciplines listed and do a little extra research on it. Write 5-7 sentences about what it is, how its used, and why you chose it in your engineering notebook. Why do we study engineering in robotics? Why do we study physics in robotics? What do you want to get out of this class? Bell Work Get into the following groups. This will be your Engineering Design Team. One group per table. Team 1
Team 2 Team 3 Team 4 Team 5 Team 6 Riley Julian
Tyler Nicholas Danielle Lukas Jeremy Kevin Saddiq
Mir Aaron Octavio Alondra Adam Semaj Enrique
Christian Steven Exchange contact information (email) and get toCory know each other (Hobbies, clubs, interests, summer Edward Damon activities, etc.) Design Teams
Most problems require more than one engineer to solve; for instance the design of an automobile. This is a hugely complex system that includes thousands of smaller problems that need to be solved. Some examples of the engineering disciplines required can be seen in the list below. Ceramic Engineers work with inorganic, non-metal materials, and might develop special ceramic composites (combinations Acoustical Engineers might work on minimizing road noise of multiple materials) for use in heat shielding, or bearings. within the car, or improve the design of the cars stereo and speaker system, or even work to improve the sound of the cars Some high-end cars use specially engineered ceramic brakes. Computer Engineers would be involved in creating the engine. firmware (software embedded in the cars microchips) of the
Aeronautical Engineers would be involved in improving the car. aerodynamics of the car to reduce drag and maximize gas Control Engineers, Electrical Engineers, and Electronic mileage. Automotive Engineers are a specialized type of engineers who Engineers would work on designing & integrating the cars utilize the skills of many of the other branches of engineering electrical system, software, and sensors. Environmental Engineers would be involved in making sure the listed here, and would be involved in most aspects of the car car meets all emissions requirements. design. How do I work on a design team?
Every student involved in competition robotics will have the opportunity to work on a design team at some point. There are a number of considerations they should keep in mind to achieve success: One should always keep an open mind. It is important to allow crazy ideas to develop. The most likely time for a creative solution to be found is early in the design process when wild ideas are expressed. No one should become overly attached to any single idea - especially one they created. It is easy to become blinded to other ideas simply because they arent mine. One should not become defensive regarding the opinions of others. Defend ones own opinions and ideas but always focus on the ultimate goal of providing the best solution possible. One should always stay positive, even when discussing negatives. Engineering is based in logic. One should focus on factual arguments, not those based on opinions. Emotion should not be allowed to interfere with the process. It is important not to be offended if disagreements occur, even if things get heated and criticisms are overly harsh. Most engineers get passionate during design discussions and will often be very blunt. It is important not to take this personally.
An unjustified opinion is not useful. Team members must be able to describe WHY they like or dislike something. How do I work on a design team? This is NOT rhetoric, it is engineering. In rhetoric, the person who argues best will be most persuasive. In engineering, the person who has the best argument will be most persuasive. It is not the one who can speak the best but the one who can provide quantitative proof that will win an argument and prove their idea is better! It is important to be quantitative wherever possible. Quantitative arguments The term quantitative is used a lot when discussing engineering arguments or justifications, but what does this really mean? quantitative (adj.)
Expressed or expressible as a quantity. Of, relating to, or susceptible of measurement. Of, or relating, to number or quantity. Quantitative arguments are simply ones that can be measured! In a design discussion, these are extremely valuable. As stated above, it is important to be quantitative whenever possible. For instance, the statement that option is heavier, so I dont think the extra functionality it provides is worth it, is not nearly as valuable as saying, That option weighs 50% more based on my initial estimates. Do we want to accept this additional weight for the functionality it provides? What is the Engineering Process & How Do I Use it? What methodical process do engineers use to solve problems? a series of steps that engineers follow when they are trying to solve a problem and design a solution for something; a methodical
approach to problem solving. Similar to the Scientific Method; no single universally accepted design process. Generally starts with a problem and ends with a solution, but the middle steps can vary. One can think of the engineering design process as a recipe for banana bread; it can be made a lot of different ways but its usually going to start with bananas and its going to end with a loaf of bread. The design process in its simplest terms can be seen as a 3-step loop: Design
In this simple design loop an idea is generated (1). This idea is implemented (2). After the idea is implemented, the design group would test the product or evaluate the result of the implementation through testing (3). Typically, during this testing and evaluation, additional ideas are generated, and the process starts over again. This cycle and repetition is why it can be said that design is an iterative process. Iteration is the act of repeating something over and over again in order to improve the process and eventually achieve a desired goal. Obviously this process could go on forever (or until the design group stops thinking of new ideas and stops finding problems with the design). There is a saying sometimes used by veteran engineers: At some point in every design process someone needs to get rid of the engineer and just build the thing! Reflection Questions
What are the three steps in the simple design loop? Be creative: If you had endless money, what would you engineer? Reflect: You worked in a team to design, construct, test, and improve your bottle rockets. How do you feel it went? What could you (personally) improve upon for your next project? How were your communication skills? What other skills might you want to work on? When & where might these skills be useful in the future? What do you think usually stops the engineering process? Money? Time? Running out of issues or ideas? Why? Bell Work: What are the three steps in the simple design loop? If you had to create a step-by-step design process, what would it be? Write your ideas on a whiteboard & share it with your group. As a team, come to a consensus about the best process.
USING THE ENGINEERING DESIGN PROCESS: As discussed earlier, there is no single engineering design process. Throughout this course you will use an 11-step design process as they conceptualize, design, and create a robot to compete in head-to-head robotics competition. The process used is seen below. Step 1 UNDERSTAND Define the Problem Step 2 EXPLORE Do Background Research Step 3 DEFINE Determine Solution Specifications Step 4 IDEATE Generate Concept Solutions Step 5 PROTOTYPE Learn How Your Concepts Work Step 6 CHOOSE Determine a Final Concept Step 7 REFINE Do Detailed Design
Step 8 PRESENT Get Feedback & Approval Step 9 IMPLEMENT Implement the Detailed Solution Step 10 TEST Does the Solution Work? Step 11 ITERATE The Engineering Process: Understand In this step engineers will define the problem they are trying to solve. This is the single most important step in the design process. Without fully understanding the problem how can an engineer solve it successfully? This step is often done incorrectly or incompletely and results in a failure of the design. It is important to define the true problem one is solving, not just the symptoms of the problem or the perceived problem.
When trying to define the real problem, remember the elevator riddle, as follows. There was a skyscraper in a major city and the occupants of the building were complaining that the elevator ride times were too long. The owners of the building wanted to fix this, so they put out a call to several local engineering firms asking them for proposals. Engineering Process: Understand One firm put in a bid to renovate the office and add two additional elevators. They speculated that adding more elevators would cut down on elevator stops and
decrease the average ride time. They estimated this would cost some ludicrous amount of money. Another engineering firm suggested renovating the building and adding some brand new, state of the art, high-speed elevators. These faster elevators would also reduce ride time. This suggestion didnt cost as much as the first proposal, but was still a ridiculous amount of money.
The third engineering firm came back with a proposal to upgrade the elevator software. They claimed that they had devised a new algorithm that would more effectively utilize the elevators already in place to cut down on average ride time. This proposal was still somewhat expensive, but much cheaper than the other two.
The Engineering Process: Understand The owners of the building were just about to hire the third firm when a fourth proposal was presented. After detailed review, the fourth proposal was immediately implemented. The fourth engineering firm suggested that full-length mirrors be installed in every elevator. When the building residents were in front of a mirror, they fidgeted and adjusted their ties, checked their make-up, and so forth and didnt notice the length of the elevator ride. This proposal didnt cost the owners very much at all and was dubbed a great success. The fourth company understood that the real problem wasnt that the elevators were too slow, but that the residents thought the ride times were too long. Occams Razor A logical principle that states that among competing hypotheses that
predict equally well, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove to provide better predictions, butin the absence of differences in predictive abilitythe fewer assumptions that are made, the better. Understanding Competition Robotics In competitive robotics there are typically numerous problems that need to be solved by the design team. The further designers get in their robot design, the more problems come up (the main problem is often broken down into smaller problems). Early in the robot design the problems may be more big picture and later they will become more detail oriented. Some sample problems a designer may encounter that need to be solved, and questions that need to be answered are below.
What is the most effective strategy for playing the game? How do we win matches? How can the robot score the most points during the match? How do we score more than our opponents? How fast does the robot need to move? How can the robot pick up the game object? How can the robot pick it up quickly? How many game objects does the robot need to hold? These problems and questions all have many answers; some answers are better than others. How does a designer go about finding the correct solution or the correct answer? That is where the rest of the process The Engineering Process: Explore In this step engineers will do background research on the problem their solving. They will investigate the ways others have tackled similar problems. Engineers will also gather details on the environment theyre dealing with, the situations their solution will be used in, and the ways it will be used.
EXPLORE for Competition Robotics Students involved in competition robotics will also need to explore their challenge. They should investigate challenges from the real world similar to the one they are solving. Students can also look to see if any other robotics competitions have utilized similar challenges in the past. This section is all about gathering data from other sources to help student robot designers create a successful solution. The Engineering Process: Define In this step engineers will specify WHAT the solution will accomplish, without describing HOW it will do it. They do this through the use of specifications. A specification is defined as an explicit set of requirements to be satisfied by a material, product, or service. In this case, specifications are requirements for the solution of the problem defined in Step 1 of the design process. Specifications typically come from two places: 1. Design Constraints
2. Functional Requirements What are constraints? A constraint can be defined as a condition that a solution to a problem must satisfy. Constraints, in short, are restrictions. What are functional requirements? Functional requirements describe how well the finished solution must perform. Again, specifications outline WHAT the solution will do and how WELL it will do it, not HOW it will do it. In Competitive Robotics the specs would describe WHAT the robot does, not HOW it does it. Thinking too much about how at this stage in the process can be counter-productive and may stifle creativity. At the same time, designers need to keep the how in the back of their minds because they need to have a basic understanding of what is possible. (For example, specifying that a new laptop computer will run continuously for one year off a single AA battery is not reasonable.) DEFINE for Competition Robotics In competitive
robotics, designers are presented with some challenge or game in which their robot will compete. This challenge often includes a manual containing a series of restrictions and requirements that every robot must fulfill; these are design constraints. This is the first type of specification a designer encounters during the process. Some examples of this type of spec are maximum robot starting size and maximum number of motors allowed. Some specifications are also due to the resources available to the designer. Since the first set listed above are present in the competition rules they are apparent to all designers. This second set of restrictions is not always as obvious but it is equally as important to consider during the design process. Some of these may be selfimposed design constraint type specifications. Two examples are robot must fall within designers budget and robot must utilize parts the designer already has. DEFINE for Competition Another Robotics self-imposed design constraint revolves around the teams capabilities. One of the most important parts of successfully generating design constraints in competition robotics is to
understand ones limitations. Many teams are tempted to overstretch their capabilities by exciting designs. Every team needs to understand exactly what they are capable of so they dont end up missing a target. Capabilities often depend on manpower, resources, budget, experience, and more. It is important to focus on the big picture when determining whether a design is achievable. When divided up, each piece may seem doable while the overall system is too much. DEFINE for Competition TeamsRobotics will often be more successful by choosing a simple design and executing it very well than by choosing a complex design that they are not capable of executing! For instance, consider that two teams are trying to build robots to put a soccer ball in a soccer goal. One team decides to build a simple plow to push the ball into the goal. The other team tries to build a kicking mechanism to kick the ball into the goal. The kicking mechanism may seem like the better solution, but what if the second team cant actually finish building their kicker? In this case, the simple solution would win! The second team should have
considered their ability to complete the project before deciding. DEFINE for Competition Robotics The next group of specifications comes from the designers functional requirements for the robot. These are things the designer believes the robot should be capable of and are performance based. Many of these are related to the challenge placed before the designer (i.e., robot can hold 10 game objects, robot can lift game objects one meter, etc.) It may be difficult or even impossible to generate this third type of spec early in the design process, as most of them are dependent on the nature of the design and how it progresses. These are more common during some of the sub-design processes than for the overall system. DEFINE for Competition
Robotics Specifications Ranking All specs are not created equal, some are more important to the design than others. Designers need to think about what is most important, and why. Specifications are often ranked in some way to denote their importance. One such scale is: W = Wish (not that important, but it would be nice if it is possible) P = Preferred (important, but the project wont fail without it) D = Demand (critical to the project, MUST be included) With these, a designer would go through and rank the specifications. These provide a good check for the designer at the end of the project. It is easy to go back down the list of specifications and see how well the design fulfilled them. Designers must make decisions about what is most important when they apply these rankings. Ranking the specifications in this way will also make it clearer in the designers mind what to focus on. Some rankings are
easier than others, for instance the constraints REQUIRED by the design challenge itself are obviously ranked as Demand. DEFINE for Competition Robotics Specifications Ranking When creating specifications some designers will list several similar specifications at different rankings to show varying degrees of importance. An example of this can be seen below: Robot can hold 5 game objects Demand. Robot can hold 10 game objects Preferred. Robot can hold 15 game objects Wish. In this example the specifications make it clear that the robot MUST hold 5 game objects, if possible it should hold 10, and the designer would be very happy if it held 15 game objects. Through the use of good
specifications and ranking it is possible to outline exactly what requirements the design team should follow and what goals the design team should strive to meet. Reflection Questions Think about a problem in your life that could be solved by engineering. Try to think of a solution. Keep the elevator story in mind! Exploring is the research part of the process. Where do you go for research? How do you evaluate the validity of a source? Prioritizing is important in the engineering process and real life. List the top 5 things in your life according to how you prioritize them (how much time you spend on them/how frequently you stop one to do another, etc.). Do you need to make any adjustments? Bell Work
Share your responses to the reflection questions from last class with your team. (As much as youre comfortable sharing.) Reminder: Think about a problem in your life that could be solved by engineering. Try to think of a solution. Keep the elevator story in mind! Exploring is the research part of the process. Where do you go for research? How do you evaluate the validity of a source? Prioritizing is important in the engineering process and real life. List the top 5 things in your life according to how you prioritize them (how much time you spend on them/how frequently you stop one to do another, etc.). Do you need to make any adjustments? What do you think the next steps in the engineering process are?
The Engineering Process: Ideate Ideate means to formulate, imagine, or conceive of an idea. Now that the engineer knows WHAT the solution will do, he or she must determine HOW it will do it. Two words: Napkin Sketches. This phrase refers to the habit of jotting down ideas whenever and where ever they occur - even if you have to jot them down on a napkin. Everyone does the same thing when faced with a problem or a decision to make: they think of alternative courses of action, even if they do this subconsciously. Formally documenting this intuitive action may help when solving complex engineering problems. The Engineering Process: Ideate This is a step that requires some creativity. Some of the questions most commonly
asked of engineers are, How did you come up with that? and Where do you get your ideas? Ideas come from everywhere! Inspiration can come from anywhere! The keywords here are: imagination and think. This is where the designer needs to brainstorm multiple ways to fulfill the specifications. It is important to remember to look for inspiration everywhere. A common mantra is, steal from the best, then invent the rest. Good designers will look in the world around them and try to find solutions to adapt to their problem and build off of. Innovation is also important early in the design process (dont wait to innovate, always put innovation first); there is a good balance to be found between thinking outside the box and using pre-made designs. The Engineering Process: Ideate Often combining two ideas or compromising between two different suggestions may yield a good concept. Again, improvements and innovations early in the
process will yield better results later in the process. It is important not to settle for mediocre concepts and to strive to find the right solution. Often this right solution reveals itself. Designers will often comment, It just feels right. The right solution will just seem elegant. Unfortunately it is not always this easy, and elegance is not always so apparent. Engineers should record ALL ideas in their engineering notebook! (It is important for engineers to copy their napkin sketches into their engineering notebooks so they have an organized record of their thought process and ideas.) Ideate for Competition Robotics In competition robotics there are a number of concepts that need to be generated. Teams need to generate concept strategies, concepts for the overall system, and concepts for individual subsystems and mechanisms. Some of these systems will be dependent on and influence each other. The teams strategy
will affect the overall system design, which in turn affects the different subsystems, but each of the subsystems will also affect the overall system. These concepts are typically generated in brainstorming sessions involving the whole competition team. Concepts are recorded as diagrams, sketches, and descriptions into individual team members engineering notebooks. Ideate for Competition Robotics Brainstorming Group Creativity Technique This stage in the engineering design process requires great creativity and the generation of a number of options for the problems solution. To accomplish this, one must use an engineering tool known as BRAINSTORMING. Brainstorming is an exercise in which groups of individuals work together to generate large numbers of ideas. Some important rules for brainstorming: 1. When brainstorming, teams focus on the quantity of ideas generated, not the quality. The
premise is that from lots of ideas will come a few great ones! 2. Reserve judgement. There are no bad ideas during the brainstorming session, because even the most outlandish concept could inspire someone else to come up with something great. Crazy ideas may also be improved and developed during the collaborative process and become feasible ideas. 3. Record everything. Student designers should document all the ideas generated during brainstorming in their engineering notebooks. Ideate IRL! Use Tinkercad (or paper & pencil) to design a prototype of a solution to a problem that you see in the world around you. Keep in mind, that you will soon make a prototype of this design. Some suggestions follow: A door stop for slick tile floors
A sweat-proof water bottle Untangleable headphones A way for young engineers to network with professionals A new use for solar energy (solar roadways/bike paths) Medicine air drop container Mousetrap racecar Many more! Bell Work Think about your design. What was the inspiration? What are its uses? What kind of problems might you face in the creation of a prototype?
The Engineering Process: Prototype In this stage of the process engineers takes some of their concepts from the previous step and make mock-up versions of them. The goal of this stage is to learn how each concept solution will function in real life and how it interacts with the real environment. This is also where a designer will start to determine which design concept will work the best. These prototypes are designed to be crude, but functional enough to be educational to the designer. The keyword here is LEARN. Designers dont need to prototype everything, just the things they want to work!
PROTOTYPE for Competition Robotics In competitive robotics, the robots must often interact with their environment and designers must learn the nature of these interactions to be successful. Designers should test in real world conditions to see how things interact, and find places for improvement EARLY in the design. Teams should be very meticulous during their prototyping. Students should take detailed notes in their engineering notebooks during the prototyping process, recording what they see, trying to figure out why some things work better than others, and then creating additional prototypes to test these ideas. Gathering data is an important part of prototyping. Create a Prototype!
Use the supplies in the room to create a prototype of your design. You can choose one of your team members ideas and work together to just make one prototype. Reflect How did your prototype do? What would you change? What would you leave the same? What did you learn about the engineering process in this lesson? Bell Work What are the steps of the engineering design process so far? Step 1 UNDERSTAND Define the Problem
Step 2 EXPLORE Do Background Research Step 3 DEFINE Determine Solution Specifications Step 4 IDEATE Generate Concept Solutions Step 5 PROTOTYPE Learn How Your Concepts Work How do they compare with your experience with the bottle rockets? The Engineering Process: Choose At this point in the process the designer or design group has several different potential solutions for the problem. This step is where the designers will use the lessons learned from their prototyping to determine which concept is best and go forward with it. This is not always an easy decision. Sometimes the right solution just reveals itself. Other times it is difficult to even define best. Teams can compare how each concept fulfills the specifications from step three in the process
and see if one is significantly better than the others. Designers should look for the simple and elegant solution. In the event that there is no obvious solution, a more methodical approach must be used to make the decision. The Engineering Process: Choose When choosing concepts as a design group, it is tempting to rely on a vote. However, a vote is nothing but an unjustified opinion, and an unjustified opinion isnt worth much in an engineering discussion. When it comes to design decisions it is better to talk through things and make a logical decision by building consensus. As discussed previously, it is important to be as quantitative as possible; one shouldnt just say something is better, they should say it is 14.8% lighter and then prove why that makes it better.
The Engineering Process: Choose In some cases the decision-making is not made by the whole design group, but by a smaller leadership group or even by a single leader. In this situation the leadership is responsible for impartially comparing each of the alternatives and then choosing the course of action. This method does not always work well, especially if the rest of the design group does not recognize the authority of the leadership and questions the final decision. However, this method can be useful in preventing stalemate situations where no consensus can be reached. To help get the groups approval, some leaders will try to use a form of consensus building, leading up to the final decision.
CHOOSE for Competition Robotics The challenges faced by student designers in competition robotics are almost identical to the ones faced by real engineers. Students must work together with their teammates to figure out which concept best fulfills the design specifications, which really means, Which concept works best to solve the problem? Students should rely on prototypes to help them make this determination. It is important for students to remember to use quantitative arguments to show how one option is better than another; the easiest way to do this may be to prove it with a prototype. CHOOSE for Competition Robotics
One tool used to help during the concept selection stage of the design process is the weighted objectives table (WOT), sometimes referred to as a decision matrix. The weighted objectives table can be used to help designers choose between options based on how they are ranked on several criteria. The WOT is an especially effective tool because of how it helps a designer compare alternatives based on what is most important to the final solution. The Engineering Process: Refine This is the stage of the design process where engineers take their chosen concept and make it into something more real. This stage is all about the details. At the end of this stage design teams
should have everything necessary so that the full design can be constructed or implemented. Some of the pieces that may be generated during this step are CAD Models, Assembly Drawings, Manufacturing Plans, Bill of Materials,Maintenance Guides, User Manuals, Design Presentations, Proposals and more. These designs will start off very basic and evolve as more details are added. It is not practical to start by detailing every piece of the solution until one sees how the pieces fit together. These basic pieces are then refined into more detailed pieces that are part of the final design. REFINE for Competition Robotics In competitive robotics it is a good idea to make a 3D model of the entire robot in Autodesk Inventor. This can be one of the longest stages in the design process, but the work pays off. The more work put into the design of the robot, the easier it will be to
make it. By spending time CADing all the detail, any issues will be solved before they become serious problems. REFINE for Competition Robotics This step in the process is also when design calculations are completed. These calculations can refer to optimizations of gearing, material strength, weight, cost, and more. In an abbreviated design process it is not always possible to fully optimize all aspects of the design. Depending on the project, sometimes getting it close enough is all that is needed. Many designers can plan things using simply their prior experiences and intuition rather than calculating every detail; this kind of thinking may work fine for a high school robotics project, but wouldnt be acceptable when designing pieces of a spacesuit where optimization is important.
Rather than optimize each piece, just ensure it can do its job. It is okay to over build so long as none of the specifications are violated. The Engineering Process: Present The detailed design must often go through some sort of design review or approval process before it can be implemented. A design review can come in many forms. Some reviews occur as a simple conversation between two of the designers. Some reviews are done as a meeting of the Design Group where they recap and check the work that has been completed and try to find any errors. Many reviews involve presenting the detailed design to a customer, manager, or some other decision-maker for final approval.
PRESENT for Competition Robotics In competition robotics, the robot designer or design group needs to present the final robot design to the rest of the team, to their class at school, or to the team leadership for final approval. Sometimes a team will do a very formal design review meeting and invite sponsors, school administrators and community members to participate. Design Presentations are an important part of the engineering process. Many engineers believe that language arts type classes are not important to them, and that they have an excuse for poor spelling, bad grammar or poor communication skills. This could not be further from the truth. If an engineer has an idea, but cannot communicate it effectively, it is not helpful; if an engineer has an opinion but cannot express it, it is not going to help solve the problem. The ability to summarize, present, and defend ideas is a skill that is absolutely critical! This applies to verbal communication, written reports, slideshow presentations, engineering drawings, and other types of media.
PRESENT for Competition Robotics The goal of a design review is not simply to approve the design; it is also to find any problems with the design or potential places where the design can be improved. During the design process, several alternative concepts were generated and one was chosen. There are many such choices made during the design process. Justifying these choices is one of the key parts of the design presentation. WHY did you do it like THAT instead of like THIS? The review group needs to ensure that the designers have done due diligence, meaning they need to see that alternatives were investigated. They need to verify that the design is well thought out and is not just the first thing that popped into someones head. Designers should take detailed notes at Design Reviews in their engineering notebooks, including a list of action items to be accomplished later.
Common questions from a Design Review: Why was it done this way? How can we make it more robust? Did you think of doing it a different way? How can we make it smaller? Why did you rule out other alternatives? How can we make it simpler?
Does it fulfill our requirements and specs? How can we make it more efficient? How can we make it function better? How can we make this cheaper? How can we make it weigh less? How can we make this easier to construct? How can we make it faster?
What other functionality would be easy to add? PRESENT for Competition Robotics Cost-Benefit Analysis When reviewing a design it is sometimes important to perform a cost-benefit analysis. When performing this kind of analysis, a designer will look at an aspect of the design to see two things: what it costs, and how much benefit it provides. The designer will then determine whether the benefit was worth the cost of implementation. Cost does not always refer to money. A features cost refers to the resources that must be diverted to it; these could be time, personnel, money, space on the robot, weight, and more. It could also refer to items that must be sacrificed in order to implement the feature being analyzed. (i.e. If we build a 2 jointed arm, we wont have room for a ball intake on the robot.)
Features that provide a BIG benefit at a small cost are the kind that should be added to the design (it is important to look for these at all stages of the process; a simple addition can often provide big results). High cost items should only be implemented if they provide a big benefit! These considerations are important ones, and designers need to keep them in mind. The Engineering Process: Implement Once the design has been completed and approved, it needs to be implemented. Depending on the nature of the problem being solved, the solutions to the problem could vary wildly. Depending on the type of solution, the implementation could also vary. The implementation could consist of using a new process that was designed, or it could consist of following a manufacturing plan and producing some physical object. For instance, in the example of the elevator riddle discussed previously, there are a number of solutions proposed and these solutions all took different forms.
If an engineer is trying to solve how to tie shoes faster, they are designing a process for tying shoes. Their implementation would be to tell people about their new shoe-tying procedure. If an engineer is trying to design a better shoe, their implementation would the manufacture and sale of the new shoes. Implementations can take many forms. IMPLEMENT for Competition Robotics In competition robotics, this is the phase where students build the thing. All the details done in Step 7 are used to create a finished, functional robot to compete with (or a subsystem that is part of a larger finished product)! This stage can involve purchasing components, cutting parts, assembly, and more - anything it takes to produce a final product. This is also the stage where a team would produce marketing packets, award submissions, and other materials related to their competition, but not associated with
the robot. These items are all part of the final implementation. The Engineering Process: Test In this stage engineers will test their implemented solution to see how well it works. The implementation must be reviewed to see what worked, what didnt, and what should be improved. The testing procedures and results should be well documented. The main thing that should be determined during this stage in the process is whether or not the final implementation performs as expected and fulfills the specifications. So what happens if the design is not found to be acceptable? The design group must find a way to make it acceptable! The design group needs to come up with a plan of improvement to get the solution up to snuff. Their plan may include starting over and going back to the drawing board to create a new plan entirely. Once the solution has been implemented, the analysis completed, and the design has been found acceptable, the design process is complete.
TEST for Competition Robotics In competition robotics this testing can occur during the competition. When the robot is on the field during a match, it is apparent exactly how well it functions! However, this is not a good situation. Most robotics teams would prefer to know how well their robot will function BEFORE it takes the field. This is why in an ideal situation teams complete their robots with plenty of time to test and improve it. Continuous improvement is the key to success. Planning ahead for this will allow for testing and adaptation before the competition. The Engineering Process: Iterate There were several mentions during the design process of repeating certain steps
multiple times until an acceptable result is achieved. This act of repetition is known as iteration. This iteration results in a better end result and is one of the most important parts of design; this is why it is said that design is an iterative process! You may be familiar with iterative design from language arts studies. When a student writes an outline, then a rough draft, then a final paper they are completing three iterations of their final paper, refining each one. These iterations make the final paper much better. One important thing designers should note is that iteration does not just take place at the end of the process, it will happen during EVERY stage in the process. The Engineering Process: Iterate The design process is NOT a linear thing; it is common to jump from step to step. Sometimes a design team may jump back and forth between steps one and two several times before ever moving onto step three.
Design teams should NOT be afraid of going backward in the process. At any step in the process, a design team may find themselves skipping backwards to any other step. The ultimate goal is to create the best design possible by improving it over and over again. Repeat parts of the process to improve the final result. The Engineering Process: Iterate The greater the number of iterations a design goes through, the better the final result will be, so why would a designer ever stop iterating? At first each repeat will result in large improvements to the design, but the longer the process goes on, the fewer problems there will be to fix and the smaller the improvements. This is known as the law of diminishing returns. Improvements to the design will get smaller with each successive
improvement. Eventually a designer may decide that the next improvement is too small to be worth the effort, and the design is good enough. The Engineering Process: Iterate Some designers take longer to call a design finished than others because they strive for perfection. Unfortunately, in the real world it is not always possible to achieve perfection. In the real world, if an engineering contractor misses a deadline, they may not get another chance, and they may have trouble finding other contracting jobs! ITERATE for Competition Robotics In competition robotics, how does one reconcile the benefits of continuous (and potentially
never-ending) improvement with the need for project completion? Simple: each team needs to set a schedule, and then stick to it. This schedule will vary greatly from team to team depending on their circumstances. If a team has six weeks to design and build their robot before they must ship it, they should come up with some sort of schedule for this time period. This schedule can vary in detail greatly. Some teams will plan out each and every step in the process while others will just do a quick overview. The schedule is not always set in stone; ultimately the only fixed dates are the project start date and the robot completion deadline (usually the date of a competition). Everything else is likely to shift as the process unfolds. Many teams in competitive robotics know these shifts will occur, so they dont even bother trying to plan a schedule in detail. SUBSYSTEM DESIGN: How is a design process like an onion? They both have layers!
There are often smaller design processes within the main design process. One may end up using a mini design process for a small part of the overall design, and then using a smaller process for one aspect of that mini process. To make this easier, the overall design is sometimes broken down into smaller chunks that can be worked on independently. These are referred to as subsystems. There may be several parallel processes occurring at the same time, each interconnected as part of the overall system. These different layers will probably depend on each other to a certain extent, if only at some interface point. The nature of this System Integration will be discussed later on. Create an Iteration of Your Design Go back to your prototype and create an iteration of your prototype. This doesnt need to be an entirely
new prototype. It can be a simple redesign in your engineering notebook. Engineering Notebooks When solving a problem, almost everyone follows a process similar to the one outlined above, even if they only do it subconsciously. Every time they are asked to make a decision, they run through this process without even realizing it. The design process can be accomplished with varying degrees of formality, ranging from the subconscious process everyone does in their head to the highly documented process used in corporate engineering. Designers must determine what degree of detail and documentation is needed for their specific process. Many designers are tempted to do everything in their head, thinking that documentation will only slow them down. In truth, a more formalized process will produce a better result. Formalization will promote
thoroughness; additional documentation will help prevent mistakes. Engineering Notebooks In competition robotics it is useful to keep documentation of the design, though the extent of this documentation is sometimes limited by the time available. However, as described above a documented process is a more methodical process. The notes can also be useful when explaining the design to competition judges and they will serve as good documentation for future team members who want to understand the process used. For the purposes of this class, students should document almost everything in their engineering notebooks. Engineering Notebooks An Engineering Notebook is a record of the design process; it is basically a
diary that designers keep as they progress through the process. Engineering Notebooks come in many different formats, but they should detail each step of the process. They should combine a narrative of the progress, concept sketches, engineering calculations, pictures of prototypes, test procedures, and more. Some of the most important things to record are the decisions made, and the reasoning behind these decisions. Later on in the design process, if a designer runs into a problem and does not remember why something was done a certain way, the notebook will provide a good reference. A Design Notebook should serve as a roadmap such that any outsider can follow the designers process, understand the choices made by the designer, and end up with the same result. Engineering Notebooks If a designer gets transferred to a different team in the
middle of a project, someone else should be able to read his or her Engineering Notebook and pick up right where they left off. Every notebook entry should be dated and signed by the designer to provide proof of when the documented work was done; this comes in handy during any patent or intellectual property debates that occur over the design (obviously this typically doesnt apply to the work done by competition robotics teams). Engineering Tools Engineers use a variety of tools to help them during the completion of a design process and the solving of a problem. One of these tools is the Engineering Notebook, which was described previously. Engineers often also use something
called Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to help them in the virtual creation and visualization of their designs. One industry leading CAD program, which will be used by students in this class, is Autodesk Inventor. Autodesk Inventor Professional & Tinkercad ForceEffect & ForceEffect Motion SolidWorks Engineering Notebook As seen in this unit, Engineering and the Engineering Design process are both integral to the development of competition robots. Students will gain practical knowledge in topics related to robotics, and apply them using the engineering design process to design their
competition robot. The Design Challenge Objective: Using nothing but ten letter size sheets of paper, create a freestanding tower as tall as possible in 30 minutes. You must spend 5 minutes planning and designing the tower before you receive any materials. You will be allowed ten minutes for prototyping; at the end of the prototyping period ALL paper and prototypes will be collected. Your team will then be given 15 minutes to implement your final tower design. The tower must remain freestanding for at least 30 seconds for its height to count. You must document the process your group followed in your engineering notebook while including as much detail as possible.
The Design Challenge Not all the steps in the engineering design process are appropriate for this challenge, however each design team should follow the simplified process shown here: Step 1 UNDERSTAND Define the Problem Step 2 DEFINE Determine Solution Specifications Step 3 IDEATE Generate Concept Solutions Step 4 PROTOTYPE Learn How Your Concepts Work Step 5 CHOOSE Determine a Final Concept Step 6 REFINE Do Detailed Design Step 7 IMPLEMENT Implement the Detailed Solution Step 8 TEST Does the Solution Work? Step 9 ITERATE The Design Challenge REDO!
Objective: Using nothing but ten letter size sheets of paper, create a freestanding tower as tall as possible in 30 minutes. You must spend 5 minutes planning and designing the tower before you receive any materials. You will be allowed ten minutes for prototyping; at the end of the prototyping period ALL paper and prototypes will be collected. Your team will then be given 15 minutes to implement your final tower design. The tower must remain freestanding for at least 30 seconds for its height to count. You must document the process your group followed in your engineering notebook while including as much detail as possible. Try to do better than last time & record your progress! Engineering Notebook Check & Quiz Complete VEX Assignment 1 in Canvas & the quiz