Thoughts on the Engineering Industry

A blog covering engineering, technology and business topics

Design Thinking: Is it Overrated?

Hello everyone.  First I just wanted to give a quick school/career update.  I am probably going to take summer off from graduate school to save up some money and with the extra time I will volunteer for an engineering service organization to gain some much needed experience.  Beyond that, I’m going to just try to relax and take a break since I felt a little burned out this last semester.

Today I want to discuss something that has been popular within the last decade or so, and that is Design Thinking.  The purpose of Design Thinking is to make sure an object you are designing not only meets the specifications required by the industry, but that it is designed with the end user in mind.  And if it doesn’t meet the requirements of the user, do the object or corresponding objectives need to be adjusted to better need the needs of the end user better?

In my opinion, that concept is important in the design process.  I’m not going to argue against that at all, because that’s how the products that we as engineers make improve for the better.  But my question is whether or not Design Thinking is something new and impressive.  All the great new innovations in engineering throughout the last century have been in response to a need.  Along with that, an innovation by definition is different and creative.  You can argue that the concern for the end user is not emphasized all that much; but, by definition, engineering is the application of scientific knowledge to a problem that needs to be solved for society.

Here is what I think happens: the engineering industry goes through phases.  A method for designing something is developed and used until it fails; then at that point the design method is tweaked to account for the issue that caused the failure.  My opinion is that before Design Thinking became popular the engineering industry had lost the focus of the end user to some degree.  It was an age of finding the next big thing to look good in relation to other companies in your industry.  In light of that, a failure was discovered in the design perspective and an innovation was made to account for the issue.  To me, Design Thinking seems to be an iteration of the engineering design process.

I would be interested to see your opinion on this so feel free to leave a comment and have a good week.


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