Welcome to Researching the Need!

Living in a world where the breadth of human knowledge is only a few hyperlinks away can be intimidating when trying to find information on a specific topic. Although it may be tempting to avoid the hassle of sorting through all the information on the internet to identify what is truly worth using and what deserves to be tossed to the wayside, this module will teach efficient ways to cull good from bad, and credible from worthless information. Web searches are a great way to establish the relevance of a design problem (to society) and gather information about that problem including competing products and patents that relate to a design problem. Click on the image of Google Search Tips below to learn new and more efficient ways to search the web.

However, any search for information should be followed by filtering that information into what is credible and what is not. At this point in the design cycle, the team must gather and consider a large amount of information and the question of relevance of the design to society and potential profit becomes pressing. Credible sources, which will be used for project proposals and other forms of communication, must be separated from the questionable ones. Deciding which sources are credible or not is determined on a case by case basis. For example, a peer reviewed journal is almost always credible while information from companies and organizations can be credible or be so biased that their reliability is quite muddied. In general, the focus of gathering and saving information to support the need for an engineering design should not rely too heavily on private entities such as companies, blogs or newspapers, but instead on less biased and more reliable sources of information provided by correspondingly unbiased organizations.

This module in the Basic Engineering Design Suite will take the student through establishing the relevance of a design problem, gathering information to support it, and filtering that information for credibility and potential bias. Comprehensively Researching the Need must be done well and thoroughly to support a more efficient and more satisfying experience throughout the rest of the engineering design cycle.

Learn more about Researching the Need
during the Engineering Design Cycle:

Presentation (.pdf) -- Establishing Relevance
Presentation (.pdf) -- Gathering Information
Presentation (pdf) -- Information Credibility, Part 1
Presentation (pdf) -- Information Credibility, Part 2
Audio Recording (Youtube) -- Establishing Relevance
Audio Recording (Youtube) -- Gathering Information
Audio Recording (Youtube) -- Information Credibility, Part 1
Audio Recording (Youtube) -- Information Credibility, Part 2
Assignment in MS Word (.docx) or Portable Document Format (.pdf)
Quiz in MS Word (.docx) or Portable Document Format (.pdf)

Research 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:
Identify the Problem
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.