So making the pillow was kind of easy. Our future projects will be a little harder and a littler more complex. We are going to need to plan things out as much as possible. We can do this by modifying The Engineering Methods to work for our needs.

I first came across the Engineering Method during my sophomore year in high school. These steps made all the big projects in my engineering class look a lot smaller and more feasible. Ever since then I have used this same process for every large project that I would tackle. There are seven steps; not every step is needed and many steps may have to be repeated.

Identification of the problem
Ask yourself this question, “What is the problem?” “Why do you need it?” The answer needs to be more than “It doesn’t work.” Be specific and precise. Paul Wright once wrote, “ An incorrect or improper definition of the problem will cause the engineer to waste time and may lead to a solution that is inappropriate or incorrect.”

Gathering needed information
This is your first research stage. I feel that this stage is the most important. Now that you know the problem, how do you fix it? Is there another alternative? Can you find a solution to your problem that is already on the market? Is this an improvement or do you have to create something new? If a solution is already available then your journey ends here.

 Searching for creative solutions – The Brainstorming
This is by far my favorite step. It lets you be creative. It’s time to throw ideas out there. Your ideas may sound ridiculous but I like to call it innovative. Are there specific features that you want? Write it down. You have a color or specific materials in mind then write those down as well.

 Stepping from ideation to preliminary designs (sample models).
Go through your brainstorm ideas and rank them in order of importance.

Improvement On A Design – If you are improving on something that already exists then you should already have one or more models. Use those models and incorporate the ideas from your brainstorm and draw it out.

Creating Something New – If you are creating something new then you should have a vision of what your creation will look like. Draw it out. This may take multiple drawings depending on the ideas you had in your brainstorm. Each drawing may have different features and there may be ideas that you have to throw out.

Evaluation of selected solution
If you have multiple designs now is the time to pick one.

Next you will need to further your research. You need to know specific things like measurements, materials, functionality, durability, and the methods you will use to make your design. During your research you may finds things that are impossible to incorporate in your design. That is okay. Use the current design that you chose and start from the beginning again; identify the problem with your current design, gather more information, brainstorm, and making another drawing. This is all normal and part of the process.

Preparation of reports, plans, and specifications / Order of Operation
At this step engineers will usually take their plans and ideas to upper management or their client for approval. We will most likely skip this step

We can use this step to figure out how we are going to put it together. Do we cut first or sew? This is a very important step to prevent mistakes that can cost you more money.

Implementation of the design
Most of the work has already been done. Time to put things together and test out your creation.

Learning From Failure – If your first creation doesn’t work out that’s okay. It’s just needs a little tweak here and there. The mistakes you learn in this step will definitely help you in other projects. Don’t give up. The pride of a finished project last forever.

In the next post I will apply our design process to making an iPhone case that is a wallet and wristlet combo.