The Engineering Design Process

To solve engineering problems, engineers follow a series of steps called the “Engineering Design Process

A Five-Step Process

The EA curriculum is for young children, so we’ve created a simple Engineering Design Process (EDP) to guide students through our engineering design challenges. This EDP—the same one that we created for our in-school Engineering is Elementary project—has just five steps and uses terms kids can understand.

The Engineering Design Process diagram

ASK: What is the problem? How have others approached it? What are your constraints?

IMAGINE: What are some solutions? Brainstorm ideas. Choose the best one.

PLAN: Draw a diagram. Make lists of materials you will need.

CREATE: Follow your plan and create something. Test it out!

IMPROVE: What works? What doesn't? What could work better? Modify your designs to make it better. Test it out!

It’s important to note that every EDP is flexible. Different engineers use different EDPs. Students work through all five steps of the EA EDP, but in real life, engineers often work on just one or two steps and then pass their work to another team.

Also note that the EDP is a cyclethere’s no official starting point or end point. You can begin at any step, focus on just one step, move back and forth between steps, or repeat the cycle. For example, after you improve your design once, you may want to begin all over again to refine your technology. The Engineering Design Process can be used again and again!

For a high-resolution image of the Engineering Adventures EDP poster, follow this link. Visit the Engineering Adventures Resources page for more useful resources.