Is Engineering Design Disappearing from Design Research?

  • M. M. Andreasen
  • T. J. Howard


Most systems and products need to be engineered during their design, based upon scientific insight into principles, mechanisms, materials and production possibilities, leading to reliability, durability and value for the user. Despite the central importance and design’s crucial dependency on engineering, we observe a declining focus on engineering design in design research, articulated in the composition of contributions to Design Society conferences. Engineering design relates closely to the ‘materialisation’ of products and systems, i.e. the embodiment and detailing. The role of clever materialisation is enormous where poor engineering will often manifest in a multitude of consequences for downstream activities. In this article we will draw a picture of what happens in the embodiment phase of designing, try to create an overview of current understandings and sum up the challenges of proper embodiment. Embodiment design is just as intellectually challenging as conceptualisation but seems much more engineering dependant and intriguing in its complexity of dependencies and unsure reasoning about properties by the fact that often a multidisciplinary team is necessary. This article should be seen as the fertilisation of this theory and terminology barren land, inspiring researchers to work on embodiment and detailing.


Part Structure Product Family Property Reasoning Function Reasoning Embodiment Design 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andreasen MM (1980) Machine design methods based on a systematic approach - contribution to a design theory. PhD thesis, Lund Technical University, Lund, SwedenGoogle Scholar
  2. Andreasen MM, Kähler S, Lund T (1988) Design for Assembly. IFS Publications/Springer-Verlag. Danish edition 1982Google Scholar
  3. Andreasen MM (2001) The contributions of design research to industry, - reflections on 20 years of ICED conferences. In: Culley SJ et al. (ed): Design Research, - Theories, Methods and Product Modelling. Proceedings of ICED 01 IMechE, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Andreasen MM, Kvist M, Pedersen R and Fiil-Nielsen O (2006) What happened to DFM? – 17 years with DFX-Symposia. In: Meerkamm H (ed) (2006) Proceedings of 17. Symposium Design for X, NeukirchenGoogle Scholar
  5. Birkhofer H (2010) From Design Practise to Design Science – the Evolution of a Career in Design Methodology Research. To appear in Journal of Engineering DesignGoogle Scholar
  6. Birkhofer H and Nordmann R (2006) Maschinenelemente und Mechatonik II. Shaker, AachenGoogle Scholar
  7. Dym CL and Little P (2000) Engineering Design. A Project Based Introduction. John Wiley and Sons, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Erixon G (1988) Modular Function Deployment – Guide for improving the manufacturability of Industrial Products. PhD-Thesis, KTH, Royal Institute of TechnologyGoogle Scholar
  9. French M (1985) Conceptual Design for Engineers. 2nd edition. The Design Council, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. Gero JS (1990) Design prototypes: a knowledge representation scheme for design. AI Magazine Vol 11 No 4:26-36Google Scholar
  11. Gruber G, Walter M and Wartzach S (2010) Verbesserungspotentiale in der Entwicklung und Validierung hoch dynamisch belasteter Leichtbaukomponenten im Umfeld der Zulieferindustrie. In: Krause D et al. (edit.) Design for X, 21. DFX-Symposium 2010. TuTech-Verlag Hamburg 11-22Google Scholar
  12. Hansen CT and Andreasen MM (2003) A proposal for an enhanced design concept understanding. In: Proceedings of ICED03 conference in Stockholm 43-44+1-10Google Scholar
  13. Howard TJ, Culley SJ and Dekoninck EA (2008) Describing the creative design process by the integration of engineering design and cognitive psychology literature. In: Design Studies 29:160-180Google Scholar
  14. Hubka V (1973) Theorie Technischer Systeme. Springer-Verlag Berlin. English edition: Hubka V and Eder WE (1988) theory of Technical Systems, Springer-Verlag Berlin Google Scholar
  15. Hubka V, Andreasen MM and Eder WE (1988) Practical Studies in Systematic Design. Butterworths LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Jacobsen K (1989) The Interrelations between Product Shape, Material and Production Method. Proceedings of ICED ‘89, Harrogate, Heurista/IMechE 775-784Google Scholar
  17. Mortensen NH and Andreasen MM (1999) Contribution to a theory of detailed design. 10. Symposium Fertigungsgerechtes Konstruieren, SchneitachGoogle Scholar
  18. Olesen J (1992) Concurrent Development in Manufacturing – based upon dispositional mechanisms. PhD-Thesis, Technical University of DenmarkGoogle Scholar
  19. Pahl G and Beitz W (2007) Engineering Design – A Systematic Approach. 3rd edition. Springer-Verlag London LimitedGoogle Scholar
  20. Tjalve E (1979) A short course in industrial design. Newnes-Butterworth. Facsimile edition from IPU, DTU 2003. German edition: Systematische Formgebung Für Industrieprodukte. VDI-Verlag, Düsseldorf 1978. Danish edition 1976Google Scholar
  21. Ullman DG (2009) The Mechanical Design Process.4th edition McGraw-HillGoogle Scholar
  22. Ulrich KT and Eppinger SD (2004) Product Design and Development. McGraw-Hill/Irwin, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  23. Vianello, G and Ahmed-Kristensen S (accepted in 2010) A comparative study of changes across the lifecycle of complex products in a variant and a customised industry. In: Journal of Engineering DesignGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. M. Andreasen
    • 1
  • T. J. Howard
    • 1
  1. 1.Technical University of Denmark (DTU)LyngbyDenmark

Personalised recommendations