The Engineering Design Process

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

An Eight-Step Process

The Engineering Everywhere Engineering Design Process is the backbone of each Engineering Everywhere unit. It is an eight-step process that guides youth in solving engineering challenges. Our goal for each Engineering Everywhere unit is for youth to understand that the Engineering Design Process can help them solve problems not only in engineering, but also in other areas of their lives.

While there are many versions of the engineering design process used in academic and professional fields of engineering, we developed an eight-step process that builds on the five-step process used in our elementary curriculum. There are guiding questions throughout the activities for the educator to ask to promote discussion about the Engineering Design Process. There are also sections in the Engineering Notebook to encourage youth to engage in the process.

IDENTIFY: Understand the engineering problem

  • Define the problem in your own words

INVESTIGATE: Gather details

  • Learn about what others have done
  • Explore possible materials or processes you could use for your design
  • Conduct science experiments to gather data

IMAGINE: Come up with different ways to solve the problem

  • Use your creativity to think of lots of ideas that could work
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of each idea
  • Pick one idea that is a good starting point

PLAN: Figure out the details of your design

  • Discuss how it will work
  • Draw diagrams and list materials
  • Decide how you will test and evaluate

CREATE: Build your design

  • Follow your plan
  • Fix small problems
  • Record any changes to your plan

TEST: Evaluate how well your design works

  • Test multiple times
  • Record your observations and findings
  • Figure out which parts are working well and which parts are not

IMPROVE: Make changes to your design based on testing

  • Decide what to change
  • Put your changes into a new plan
  • Build your improved design and test again

COMMUNICATE: Share your solution with others

  • Explain strengths and weaknesses of your solution
  • Share how you used the Engineering Design Process
  • Ask people for feedback

Also note that the Engineering Design Process is a cycle—there’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 Everywhere Engineering Design Process poster in English, follow this link. For the same file in Spanish, visit this link. Visit the Engineering Everywhere Resources page for more useful resources.