VARIATION OF FUNCTIONAL DESCRIPTIONS OF A PRODUCT AS A SOURCE OF CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION: EXPERIENCES IN ENGINEERING DESIGN EDUCATION

K. Hain, C. Rappl

THD Technische Hochschule Deggendorf (GERMANY)
This article presents some findings of an efficient use of design methodologies and techniques in an educational context and also when conducting engineering design projects with industry. It emphasizes especially the functional representation of a design task in order to support problem solving capabilities of students.

All existing design methodologies recommend certain aids and methods for use and incorporation into the design process. However, design methodologies are difficult to understand for some reasons. The most crucial challenge in finding design solutions is actually to define the interrelationship between several design models and to combine them in an appropriate way. The possibilities of connecting instances of these entities in order to create solution patterns are almost countless. Every design task respectively requirement of a product relates to one or more functions respectively function structures. Even the definition of requirements is a difficult task, because the problem formulation obtained by problem abstraction may lead to various possible overall functions. A function/sub-function itself can be related to one or more physical effects, whereby a given physical effect can represent the core effect for one or more function/sub-functions. The same applies for the relationships between physical effects and solution principles, for instance a solution principle may have relationships to one or more physical effects in order to become a complete working principle.

Therefore, the conduction of comprehensive engineering design examples and projects is essential to improve the use of design techniques and to strengthen the confidence and competence of engineering design students in terms of functional thinking and problem solving.