ICED 99 MUNICH, AUGUST 24-26, 1999

Course on Design Methodology

Johannes Steinschaden

Keywords: Vocational Training, Design Methodology

  1. Introduction
  2. This paper describes a course on design methodology which was developed for elementary and advanced training of mechanical engineers as part of a project supported by the EU-Commission.

  3. Project QuaKo – Qualifikation in der Konstruktion

The project QuaKo is part of the EU program Leonardo da Vinci. Conceived as a transnational pilot project QuaKo offers innovative approaches in vocational training. The underlying concept acknowledges the present technological developments using them as a measure for current training requirements. The project concerns primarily the elementary and advanced vocational training of mechanical engineers.

QuaKo includes the following four courses which have been developed by different project partners.

  1. Course about different standards about materials and drafting roles. Developed by SMS Schloemann-Simag AG, Germany.
  2. 3D CAD course. Developed by Qualifizierungszentrum Rheinhausen GmbH, Germany.
  3. Course about ISO 9000 for small and medium sized companies. Developed by CEFTI/ICAM, Ecole d'ingenieurs, Lille, France.
  4. Course on design methodology. Developed by Johannes Steinschaden, Fachhochschul Studiengaenge Vorarlberg GmbH, Austria, on basis of VDI-Richtlinien [1,2,3,4], Pahl/Beitz [5] and Ehrlenspiel [6].

The following focuses only on the course on the fourth course.

  1. Objectives
  2. The course on design methodology can be part of the elementary and advanced vocational training of mechanical engineers. Its aim is to develop designing skills in students. More than one course will be needed to enhance these skills. Design projects have proved to be very helpful in developing designing skills. The aim of this course is to offer students a basic understanding of design processes and to make them familiar with various methods that facilitate these processes. Students are taught the fundamentals of a systematic approach and they learn how to select the methods that respond best to their individual needs so that they will be able to apply various adequate methods in order to find new solutions to a given problem. Several basic methods of selecting and evaluating solutions are discussed.
    The course material includes a number of practical examples to help the trainer create their own examples.

    The course aims mainly at employees in small and medium sized companies most of which employ only small teams in product development and design. This implies that engineers are involved in the complete designing process. So it was the aim of the author to provide an efficient tool suitable for their particular situation.

  3. Modules

The whole course is divided into 12 modules. The first six modules deal with fundamentals independent of the design process [5]. The other six modules concern with engineering design processes.

The twelve modules are

  1. Engineering systems: fundamental understanding of engineering systems
  2. Introduction to a systematic approach: problem solving strategies
  3. Presentation of different methods of searching for solutions: rational, systematic, inductive and intuitive approaches
  4. Methods of combining different approaches
  5. Methods of screening a choice of possible approaches for practicability
  6. Methods of evaluation
  7. Designing as part of the production process
  8. Description of the structure and various phases of the design process
  9. The importance of clearly defining the task, establishing a list of requirements
  10. Conceptual design
  11. Embodiment design
  12. Detail design

  1. Didactics
  2. This course should provide a basic understanding of and first experiences with the systematic approach in engineering design processes. To ensure a maximum of applicability it is very important for learners / students to be supported by a supervisor. The course consists of theoretical and practical phases. Most of the theoretical phases are suitable for self-instruction as well as lecturing, whereas the practical phases definitely require teamwork of the students. The trainer supervises the students.

    In order to teach students the importance of well-defined tasks, certain exercises are not clearly defined. This forces students to go through the process of problem definition. The supervisor is expected to coach the team and to reflect the processes with them. The trainer is welcome to present practical examples according to his/her professional background. In order to make students experience different points of view in the process of engineering design, they are invited to alternately play the roles of customer and engineer.

  3. Course material

The course consists of a written version and a set of (OHP) transparencies. The whole course is available as an HTML-document, a CD-ROM or via Internet.

A mind map at the beginning of each module introduces the students to the contents of the module and helps them grasp its main points.

  1. Example of a mind map

The transparencies are intended to support the lecturer. They present the contents of the various modules. The students are recommended to have the written version of the course at their disposal.

  1. Conclusion

This paper presented a course on design methodology which was developed for elementary and advanced vocational training of mechanical engineers as part of a project supported by the EU-Commission.


  1. VDI 2222 Blatt 1, ‘‘Konstruktionsmethodik. Methodisches Entwickeln von Lösungsprinzipien’’, VDI-Richtlinien, Entwurf, Juli 1996
  2. VDI 2222 Blatt 2, ‘‘Konstruktionsmethodik. Erstellung und Anwendung von Konstruktionskatalogen’’, VDI-Richtlinien, Februar 1982
  3. VDI 2221, ‘‘Methodik zum Entwickeln und Konstruieren technischer Systeme und Produkte’’, VDI-Richtlinien, Mai 1993
  4. VDI 2212, ‘‘Datenverarbeitung in der Konstruktion. Systematisches Suchen und Optimieren konstruktiver Lösungen’’, VDI-Richtlinien, Oktober 1981
  5. Pahl, G., Beitz, W.: ‘‘Konstruktionslehre: Methoden und Anwendung’’, Springer--Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg, 4. Aufl. 1997
  6. Ehrlenspiel K.: ‘‘Integrierte Produktentwicklung: Methoden für Prozessorganisation, Produkterstellung und Konstruktion’’, Carl Hanser Verlag M"unchen Wien, 1995

First authors name Dr. Johannes Steinschaden

Institution/University Fachhochschul Studiengaenge Vorarlberg

Department Technik

Address Höchsterstraße 73, A-6850 Dornbirn

Country Austria

Phone: +43 5572 20336 363

Fax: +43 5572 23406