Mechanical engineering design, learning from the past to design a better future?

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Martin Edward Sole Patrick Barber Ian Turner

Abstract

The economic importance of design, and design engineers to the success of a company has led to the exponential growth in the demand for qualified design engineers. To fill this demand, colleges and universities provide the best training available so that, after graduation these engineers will provide significant input from the first day of work. We live in a time known as industry 4.0 or the 4th Industrial Revolution, where computer power rules and takes on greater tasks, freeing up time for the design engineer to design more and more complex designs.


Sometimes, it is good to stop, and take a breath to review our practices and remind ourselves of things we may have forgotten. It is true that we can design complex mechanisms and systems, in times past many of these would not be possible. But can we learn or be reminded of good practice by taking a journey through some of the design methods from the past. This paper will travel back to the 2nd century BC and look at cutting edge water pump design and the importance of a good literature review. It will highlight a serious gap in knowledge when comparing full-time and part-time students in our modern age. Airship design will be reviewed, the R100, R38 and R101 to remind us of the need to cross check design calculations. Looking at the beauty of Concorde design will remind us of the requirement in any design of good planning and regular meetings. This journey will finish by looking at the design process of the Boeing 777 commercial airliner, one of the first designs to use Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM). The use of Design Build Teams (DBT) with cross-disciplinary experts who can reside anywhere in the world will be considered. The reviewed historical examples may at first glance appear happen-stance but are in fact linked, and demonstrate a continuing growth in the ability, knowledge, complexity, and techniques of engineering design.


This step back in time will remind teachers of some basic principles when teaching design to future design engineers. Designs have become more complex in this modern age, but it would be incorrect to say that complex design did not exist in times past. Before the internet, aircraft were built, global communication systems existed, men went to the moon.

Article Details

How to Cite
SOLE, Martin Edward; BARBER, Patrick; TURNER, Ian. Mechanical engineering design, learning from the past to design a better future?. Design and Technology Education: an International Journal, [S.l.], v. 26, n. 3, p. 178-189, nov. 2021. ISSN 1360-1431. Available at: <https://ojs.lboro.ac.uk/DATE/article/view/3066>. Date accessed: 04 dec. 2021.
Section
Research