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Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

By: JVN
New: 12-03-2009 11:38 PM
Updated: 12-03-2009 11:38 PM
Total downloads: 1961 times


What is Engineering? Problem Solving.
How do Engineers solve problems? With the Engineering Design Process.

This paper is designed to provide a basic understanding of the engineering design process and how to apply it to design of a competition robot. Though the engineering design process can be implemented in a variety of ways, this paper will highlight one particular method. This paper is targeted primarily at beginners but may also be useful for more advanced designers.

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12-03-2009 11:45 PM

JVN


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

Hi All,

This is a whitepaper I wrote detailing my version of the Engineering Design Process, and how you can apply it to Competition Robotics.

I started this paper over a year ago, but got busy and never finished it. Part of it turned into this presentation:
http://www.chiefdelphi.com/media/papers/2250

Earlier this summer I started poking at it again, and very recently got it close enough to publish.

I strongly believe this is some of my best work. This is a topic I am very passionate about. I think that if you can instill a student the essence of "What is Engineering?" then you have succeeded as a mentor.

While this stuff may be intuitive to many people, I believe it is still VERY POWERFUL when taught well. This paper represents a collection of many of the lessons I've been teaching students for many years, and is based on my experiences on 20, 229, & 148, the things I learned during my 4 years at Clarkson, and my time at IFI.

Hopefully this will provide beginners a greater understanding of the process that we all go through subconsciously in one form or another when solving a problem.

-John

PS - Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this paper (knowingly or not) over the years. I am not ashamed to say that my personal take on Engineering Design has been GREATLY influenced by the many great mentors and friends I've had. If you're reading this paper and you see your words on my page... thanks!



12-03-2009 11:46 PM

JVN


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

This paper references one I did on Using a Weighted Objectives Table for a Competition Robot Design which can be found here:
http://www.chiefdelphi.com/media/papers/2175

-John



12-03-2009 11:58 PM

Andrew Schreiber


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

Thanks, I have only had time to skim it right now (work in the AM) but I can't wait to really delve into it and pull the ideas.

In my skimming I do have to ask about one of the quotes, “Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.” What exactly is meant by this? Above it the saying "two heads is better than one" is said. These two sayings seem completely at odds, the Ark did its job whereas the Titanic sank. I swear, I am not picking at it just trying to reconcile these two quotes. Course, I could just be sleepy.

At any rate, thank you, this looks awesome.



12-04-2009 12:14 AM

Akash Rastogi


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

Thanks for an even greater resource than your presentation from Atlanta, JVN.

Our robotics teacher already incorporated your presentation into our curriculum, he will be really excited about adding this paper now.

Great stuff, I love getting real insight from engineers.

(2753 post hehe)



12-04-2009 01:26 AM

James Tonthat


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

I just started reading through the paper, and it's great.



12-04-2009 01:42 AM

Aren_Hill


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

Finally made it through and feel more competant already



12-04-2009 03:36 AM

wendells


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

John read your paper.



12-04-2009 09:20 AM

IKE


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Schreiber View Post
“Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.” What exactly is meant by this? Above it the saying "two heads is better than one" is said. These two sayings seem completely at odds, the Ark did its job whereas the Titanic sank. I swear, I am not picking at it just trying to reconcile these two quotes. Course, I could just be sleepy.
Re-read the paper. The paper does a good job of covering the seemingly opposing principles. Another way of putting it is two heads are better than one, except:
when the two heads always think the same thing (too similar)
when the second head only waits for ideas from the first and agrees (yes man)
when the two heads are so strongly opposed and equal in rank that nothing can get done (stalemate)
when the two heads are on the martians mascot (creepy) j/k 494&70

While this seems like a lot of exceptions, diversity of thought is incredibly beneficial especially in the early phases.

************************************

JVN: Excellent paper. For those reading it, there are a TON of key details that are mentioned in this paper. There are numerous books written on small topics contained within this presentation. If you are new to the topic, I would recommend doing several "iterations" of reading this paper.

I really enjoyed the editorial section. Especially 1a & #3. Personally I can respect someone opting to do #3 as long as they are aware of the decision they are making and as long as they (and their sponsors) are aware/ok with the consequences (it could be a long lonely competition season).



12-04-2009 10:33 AM

Tom Bishop


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

Really nice job John! I will use this paper with some of the projects that I have the students do, like Sumo Bots, as well as with the FRC team.

Thanks for posting



12-05-2009 11:25 AM

Chris is me


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

This should be required reading for everyone. I just finished reading it and feel 10 times smarter already. I think I'll print out a bunch of copies, bring it to Kickoff, and have everyone on my team (who wants to) read it.

Thanks John!



12-05-2009 08:49 PM

rsisk


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

We are doing the same thing. This will be presented to the team before kick off.

JVN... you rock!



12-07-2009 09:46 AM

JesseK


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

I read this last week, meditated over the weekend, then read it again before work this morning. I'm highly impressed at the John's ability to communicate these principles in such simple terms. John, seriously, you should write a textbook. It'd be 10 times better than this crap (look at pg 232...) I had to read for my SYST510 class for Systems Engineering.

Now, as for accuracy and completeness as it applies to real world complex integrated systems... well who cares that it's not 100% perfect for that yet. This is perfect for high school and college students who are working on a semi-complex integrated system and teaches the fundamentals of project management in such a way that the students themselves can understand.



12-07-2009 12:28 PM

IKE


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

Quote:
Originally Posted by JesseK View Post
It'd be 10 times better than this crap (look at pg 232...) I had to read for my SYST510 class for Systems Engineering.
I love figure 3.10-2!



12-07-2009 01:21 PM

bachster


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

John, thanks for sharing this! I have borrowed heavily from your earlier presentation in trying to present the design process in an easy to understand format. I'd like to have all our students read this, although we have a lot of short attention spans so might have to break it into sections.



12-07-2009 04:00 PM

Collin Fultz


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

John -

Your presentation last year in Atlanta was fantastic and this paper does a great job capturing your enthusiasm for this topic. Thank you so much for writing this. It's been added to my "JVN" folder (other contents include how to effectively use a WOT and the design calculator spreadsheet).

Thanks again.



12-07-2009 10:17 PM

Ed Law


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

Quote:
Originally Posted by JesseK View Post
It'd be 10 times better than this crap (look at pg 232...) I had to read for my SYST510 class for Systems Engineering.
Jesse, I really feel sorry for you. Hey the FRC season will be starting soon and you will have fun which will offset reading boring things like that. Sorry for saying this to the book author but what were you thinking?

John, just want to let you know what a big coincidence. Last Friday evening, we had one of our training sessions. (Yes my students come to such things on a Friday night instead of partying with their friends.) The topic was on Design Process. I went over the process that Jim Zondag (Team 33) uses. I had some of my own slides but I also borrowed heavily from your presentation. There was one slide that mention the elevator riddle which I had no clue what it is since I did not attend the seminar in Atlanta. When I went home I found your white paper on CD that was published that same day. I sent the link to all the students. We are going to design a new battery cart as a team design practice. Thank you for publishing this.



12-23-2009 10:36 PM

JVN


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

Quote:
Originally Posted by JVN View Post
I started this paper over a year ago, but got busy and never finished it. Part of it turned into this presentation:
http://www.chiefdelphi.com/media/papers/2250
Note:
A video of that presentation is available here:
http://thinktank.wpi.edu/article/156

It is a cool companion to the paper.

-John



12-24-2009 09:25 AM

gblake


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

I humbly suggest tweaking the title to remove the implication that there is only one "Engineering Design Process". Quoting what Ike expressed after reading your paper, "diversity of thought is incredibly beneficial".

I'll bet that whoever wrote that horrid (odious? stultifying? abominable? soul-sucking?) textbook Jesse has to use thinks that they are describing "The" engineering design process, and so do other authors, and so to other teachers, and so do .... With human creativity and diversity involved, I'm pretty confident that what we have is an excellent paper describing an engineering process(es), but not the engineering process.

Blake



12-24-2009 11:08 AM

JVN


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

Quote:
Originally Posted by gblake View Post
I humbly suggest tweaking the title to remove the implication that there is only one "Engineering Design Process". Quoting what Ike expressed after reading your paper, "diversity of thought is incredibly beneficial".

I'll bet that whoever wrote that horrid (odious? stultifying? abominable? soul-sucking?) textbook Jesse has to use thinks that they are describing "The" engineering design process, and so do other authors, and so to other teachers, and so do .... With human creativity and diversity involved, I'm pretty confident that what we have is an excellent paper describing an engineering process(es), but not the engineering process.

Blake
Given the difficulty of changing the title, I'm going to leave it as is. I hope people will read the paper far enough to notice the section(s) where I talk (repeatedly) about your exact concern.

You can't judge a book by its cover (or title).

-John



12-24-2009 05:34 PM

gblake


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

Quote:
Originally Posted by JVN View Post
Given the difficulty of changing the title, I'm going to leave it as is. I hope people will read the paper far enough to notice the section(s) where I talk (repeatedly) about your exact concern.

You can't judge a book by its cover (or title).

-John
Understood - I'm constantly surprised, nay dumbfounded, by instructors who truly believe that there is "one" engineering process; and that they are teaching it. It has become one of the many peeves I have accumulated on my road full-fledged curmdgeonhood.

Blake



12-25-2009 11:24 AM

Rich Kressly


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

Quote:
Originally Posted by gblake View Post
Understood - I'm constantly surprised, nay dumbfounded, by instructors who truly believe that there is "one" engineering process; and that they are teaching it. It has become one of the many peeves I have accumulated on my road full-fledged curmdgeonhood.

Blake
Agreed, however I think JVN does more than an adequate job of reminding the reader that there is a great deal of flexibility to/in the process and it needs to be applied with a knowledge of the user's particular needs, resources, etc.

I, too, always use the term "The" when I talk about design process, but I always emphasize how "the process" is a very flexible one that can look a lot of different ways in a lot of different situations.



12-25-2009 09:18 PM

gblake


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich Kressly View Post
Agreed, however I think JVN does more than an adequate job of reminding the reader that there is a great deal of flexibility to/in the process and it needs to be applied with a knowledge of the user's particular needs, resources, etc.
I was careful avoid suggesting JVN did anything other than that, except in the title.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich Kressly View Post
I, too, always use the term "The" when I talk about design process, but I always emphasize how "the process" is a very flexible one that can look a lot of different ways in a lot of different situations.
Yeah, but we aren't talking about methods/processes as clear-cut as those known as The Scientific Process. So why use phrases like "The Engineering Process" or "The Design Process" in the first place?

I admit it's a peeve; but with that said, in a spirit of continuous improvement, dropping the "The" would seem to be a simple improvement to make in future opportunities. Right from the beginning a speaker would be mistake-proofing the conversation, instead of starting with a debatable opening statement and then teaching an improved perspective.

Blake



12-27-2009 04:23 PM

rsisk


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

John,

I was watching the presentation preparing to show it to our team. You have a slide that states: This "problem" can be broken down into smaller problems that must be solved.

When I learned this process in the Air Force back in the early 80s, we used the term "reiterative decomposition" for this process. I like the term and thought you might like it too.



01-11-2010 11:23 PM

Jon Jack


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

I showed the video to our engineering team last week and they loved it. I have yet to see a day pass where they don't reference it at least once. Lots of very useful information. Thanks John!



01-11-2010 11:52 PM

jamie_1930


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

Quote:
Originally Posted by JVN View Post
Thread created automatically to discuss a document in CD-Media.

Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot by JVN
Your paper was refrenced in this thread right before kickoff
http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/sh...653#post893898
All I have to say is how amazing it was to read this through and the amount of knowledge I obtained from it, any knowledge not obtained was refined and improved. The only thing I was disappointed about was how far my team has already strayed from what you've outlined.



01-11-2010 11:56 PM

Akash Rastogi


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

We have stuck to John's guidelines, and so far it has been the best brainstorming/design weekend we have ever had.

We have also learned through this how important proper and extensive documentation is. I have been logging every single design and sketch any team member has created in a detailed Engineering Notebook.

All rationale for designs and strategies is very well argued and reasoned using quantitative data. The iterations of these ideas are coming along really well also. My favorite part is how even the freshmen and sophomores have really really good ideas (similar to the veteran's ideas) on what they want to build just because of this presentation.



01-12-2010 09:35 AM

rsisk


Unread Re: paper: Using the Engineering Design Process for Design of a Competition Robot

Have to agree with all that was said so far.

I actually got to use the "VOTE is a 4 letter word" during our brainstorming session

Even better, after the presentation the week before kickoff, some of our adult mentors asked for a link to the presentation to show where they work. JVN, you are changing the world.



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