Welcome to Identifying the Problem!

Did you know?  People produce more and more creative ideas when working alone than when working in groups. (e.g. Stroebe & Diehl, 2011)

Open-ended design, in whole or in part, is likely to require brainstorming at the beginning of the engineering design cycle.  While traditionally brainstorming has been thought to be a group exercise, recent research into how people think and work productively has shown that for many people, it is more helpful to start thinking about ideas alone.  Brainstorming during the engineering design cycle is no exception and is often best done alone. Once you've had a chance to explore your own ideas and consider them in the context of your goals, preferences, and passions, then it is time to go to the design team with a carefully chosen subset of your ideas and lobby for their implementation!   

Following are two examples of how individuals brainstorm at the beginning of the engineering design cycle (click on either image to view the corresponding video):

There is no single, correct, tried and true way to brainstorm ideas for engineering design or for solving other engineering problems. In fact, whatever works for an individual to generate more and more creative ideas is the right way for that individual!

This module in the Basic Engineering Design Suite will take the student through brainstorming, choosing a team, and finalizing the selection of a problem at the start of the engineering design process with the specific objective of identifying the problem or the need to be addressed throughout the rest of the design cycle.  

Learn more about Identifying the Problem
during the Engineering Design Cycle:
Presentation (.pdf) -- Brainstorming
Presentation (.pdf) -- Choosing a Team
Presentation (pdf) -- Final Selection
Audio Recording (Youtube) -- Brainstorming
Audio Recording (Youtube) -- Choosing a Team
Audio Recording (Youtube) -- Final Selection
Assignment in MS Word (.docx) or Portable Document Format (.pdf) -- Brainstorming
Assignment in MS Word (.docx) or Portable Document Format (.pdf) -- Choosing a Team
Quiz in MS Word (.docx) or Portable Document Format (.pdf) -- Choosing a Team
Quiz in MS Word (.docx) or Portable Document Format (.pdf) -- Final Selection

Explore your ideas... and enjoy!  

This suite of educational tools supports the Engineering Design Cycle, from beginning to end, in a way that allows the student to pursue open-ended engineering design from idea to prototype to redesign. These tools can be useful, for both teaching and learning, in a capstone design experience, other design classes, as well as in extracurricular or any other activities that involve formal design.

Explore More:
Research the Need
Design Solutions
Select the Best Solution
Construct a Prototype
Test and Evaluate
Present the Solution
Redesign and Iterate


This work was funded in part by the National Science Foundation (DUE-1245464). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.