engineering design


Term and Year of Offering: Spring 2015

Course Number and Title: SYDE 361, Engineering Design

Lecture Times, Building and Room Number:

                                                                                M  [design studio]  12:30 to 4.20      E5 6006

                                                                                W [design studio]    12:30- 3:20        E5 6006

All students are to be present for the entire design studio time, no exceptions.

Instructor’s Name, Office Location, Office Hours, Contact: John Zelek,  E5-6122 ), T 9:30-10.20; or by appointment, ; ext 32567

TA’s Name, Office, Office Hours, Contact;

David Abou Chacra,,  tbd, location

Jason Deglint,, tbd, location

Mohit Batra, tbd, location

Course Concept Map:

There are a few variations of the design process.   The one typically taught for engineering design usually is similar to the one illustrated in the figure below.  Design by its very nature is iterative so the linear process indicated is not the typical execution.

Other variations of the design process are shown in the 2 textbooks we are going to use extensively this semester.  One of the texts ‘Universal Methods of Design’ has the design process broken up into the following phases:

Phase 1:  Planning, Scoping & Definition

Phase 2: Exploration, Synthesis and Design Implications

Phase 3: Concept Generation, Early Prototype Iteration

Phase 4: Evaluation, Refinement & Production

Phase 5: Launch & Monitor.

In these stages, it is highly unlikely that the projects we work on this semester will ever make it to Phase 5.

In the other book we will use, entitled ‘Sprint’, they identify 5 stages and do not even include building and launching.  This is the book that we will chiefly use for the course.  Their 5 stages are:

  1. 1.MONDAY: Unpack, Map & Target - everything you know about the problem

  2. 2.TUESDAY: Sketch & Explore - detailed solutions on paper

  3. 3.WEDNESDAY: Decide & Refine- on what solution to go with

  4. 4.THURSDAY: Prototype - realistic looking one

  5. 5.FRIDAY: Test & Learn - on stakeholders.

This entire design cycle can be viewed as 3 phases:

  1. 1.Idea

  2. 2.Protytpe

  3. 3.Learn

It takes its roots from Eric Ries’ book ‘The Learn Startup” where his phases were:

  1. 1.Idea

  2. 2.Build

  3. 3.Launch

  4. 4.Learn

Notice that the steps of building and launching have been circumvented and skipped to speed up the process.  The thinking is that the Learn Startup method will take at least 6 months where the Design Sprint can be done in a week before even thinking of building and launching.

It is interesting to note that the Sprint text condenses the entire design process into 5 full 7 hour days.  I have decided to run this over the course of 5 weeks, 7 hours per week of class time.  I will refer to the days of the week as Phases 1 to 5.  The first week will be devoted to finding a problem, purchasing material needed for a design sprint and the textbooks.  The other text that I mentioned earlier has a collection of methods that you can draw upon during the various stages, some mentioned in Sprint and mostly ones that are not.  The first 6 weeks of the course will be a design sprint, the next week will be presentations to the class with a demo as well as a 1 page executive summary.  The subsequent week will be used for an individual take home exam.  The next  week we will go through the design stages again trying other techniques.  The next 2 weeks will be spent in trying to map the prototype into a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and analyzing some aspect of the design.  We will again have presentations in the last week, I have yet to decide if this will be a trade show exhibit or not.

The design methods you will encounter can be used to solve any problem, not necessary

Course Learning Objectives:

  1. Students should be able to apply the design methodology and methods  to solve an opportunity or societal need from an engineering perspective.  The design processes and methods used in the course can be used for tackling both engineering problems as well as other problems in other areas such as business, society, medical, political, etc.

  2. Students should be able to draw upon their previous and current engineering courses, identifying the concepts that they draw upon during the design process.  The rationale behind this is that each one of you is an expert in an engineering discipline and your training so far can be used in the engineering analysis and synthesis aspects.

  3. Students should be able to set up and execute an engineering team including defining appropriate individual roles.  This team should be able to plan & manage themselves as well as communicate their process & results to different audiences.  In conjunction with their engineering roles, each member of the team should wear another hat as a design member as well.

  4. Students should be able to log and keep a record of the design process (i.e., log books).  (Log books will be a google doc that includes pictures of the work done during the studio time and outside of class).

  5. Students should be able to critique the current state of the art, problem, identify  experts outside their team as well as identify what are the real components of the project they should be working on.

Mandatory Texts: (weekly assignments & midterm use these texts)

    SPRINT (How to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days), by Jake Knapp, Simon & Schuster 2016, Simon & Schuster.

Universal Methods of Design (100 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions),  by Bella Martin & Bruce Hanington, 2012, Rockport Publishers.

[I would recommend the Kindle versions as they are quite affordable, both books can be purchased for less than $30]

Highly Recommended Text:

Universal Principals of Design (125 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach through Design), William Lidwell & Kritina Holden, 2010, Rockport Publishers

The Pocket Universal Principles of Design: 150 Essential Tools for Architects, Artists, Designers, Developers, Engineers, Inventors & Makers, William Lidwell, 2015,  Rockport Publishers.

[note: both of the above books are similar, the first one is comprehensive, kindle version is $12 (I was able to get the kindle version for $3), the second is a compact pocket book, printed cost is $14.

Mandatory Group Studio Equipment:

portable whiteboard (2 recommended)

yellow 3 by 5 sticky note pads

black whiteboard markers

green and red whiteboard markers

black felt-tip pens

printer paper

masking tape

small dot stickers (1/4 inch)

large dot stickers (3/4 inch)

time timers (optional)

healthy snacks

Teaching & Learning Methods:

  1. Design Studio

  2. Log book recording

  3. reading & application

  4. Presentations

  5. Brief executive summaries

Assessment Methods:

  1. Group

    2 presentations                         20%

    2 executive summaries             15%

   demo (intermediate, final)        10%

   misc submissions                             5%

  1. Individual

  ‘Sprint‘ weekly reading assignments (6 sections), 1 page summary          5%  total

    midterm (take home)              20%

    individual engineering expertise update  (weekly)             1.5x10=15%            

    individual log book  (weekly updates)                   1x10 =10%


individual engineering expertise update: on a weekly basis, each person of the group will submit a 1 page table in pdf format that highlights what current and past engineering courses they have drawn upon for concepts used this past week.  The table will contain 4 columns, the first column is the course number, the second column is the course title, the third column will contain a description of the concept and the fourth column will include a description of how the concept was used in the design work.  For example an entry might be:  SYDE181; Statics; FBD; “A FBD was used to analyze the forces on a loaded human spine.  The FBD used is illustrated (and you can include a small pictures?)”.

Reading Assignments :   I expect a pdf 1 to 2 page submission.  Highlight the relevant material in the section and identify what methods were used (referencing the method book) and suggest what other methods (from the methods) book could have been used.  Justify your answer.  Also highlight  how this section was used by other companies that are referred to.  Highlight any unique suggestions.

Project Theme : The theme for this semester revolves on working on real challenging engineering design problems.  I would suggest looking at the XPrize challenges to identify an area and possible ideas.  The focus on the course is product design so the final solution should be something I can hold (not only software).

Design Project  Roles:  Each member of the design team will have a unique title and role assigned to them.  There will actually be 2 roles, one as identified in the text and the other hat will be an engineering expert role.  Acceptable roles for engineering expert  include electrical engineer, software engineer, mechanical engineer, human factors engineer, systems integration engineer.  Other team roles or titles need to be discussed and approved by the course instructor.  These roles will be handed in on the course dropbox.

Engineering Design LogBook: is a personal and professional diary of learning while engaged in a project and includes results.  It is used to protect IP (intellectual property).   A google doc can be used for your logbook.  The log book should be a recording of your individual work but may include group work.  It can include pictures from the studio design and other work you do outside the studio setting.  The pages should be dated and indexed.

The Course will follow the following structure:

none, all is done outside of classroom, classroom time is a design studio.

May 2            Introduction

May 4            Team Work

May 9,11        Phase one

May 16, 18    Phase two

May 25, 30    Phase three

June 1, June7   Phase four

June 8,  13        Phase five

June 15            Open period to put together presentations, demos [take home test (rubric)]

June 20, 22    Presentations, demos  (take home midterm) [rubric]

June 27, 29    redo Phase One, two, three (with new methods) [incorporate interview feedback]

July 4, 6        redo Phase four, five (with new methods) [incorporate interview feedback, get more feedback]

July 11, 13    MVP  (detailed design) (picking some aspect to focus on)

July 18,         MVP  (completing spec, and build)

July 20            showcase of designs, MVP (rubric)

July 25            one page exec sum MVP due (rubric)

Late Submissions:  Late submissions will not be tolerated.  Individual assignments not submitted on time will receive a grade of 0.

Academic Integrity, Grievance, Discipline, Appeals and Note for Students with Disabilities: see   The text for this web site is listed below:

Academic Integrity: In order to maintain a culture of academic integrity, members of the University of Waterloo community are expected to promote honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. [Check for more information.]

Grievance: A student who believes that a decision affecting some aspect of his/her university life has been unfair or unreasonable may have grounds for initiating a grievance. Read Policy 70, Student Petitions and Grievances, Section 4,  When in doubt please be certain to contact the department’s administrative assistant who will provide further assistance.

Discipline: A student is expected to know what constitutes academic integrity [check] to avoid committing an academic offence, and to take responsibility for his/her actions. A student who is unsure whether an action constitutes an offence, or who needs help in learning how to avoid offences (e.g., plagiarism, cheating) or about “rules” for group work/collaboration should seek guidance from the course instructor, academic advisor, or the undergraduate Associate Dean. For information on categories of offences and types of penalties, students should refer to Policy 71, Student Discipline, For typical penalties check Guidelines for the Assessment of Penalties,

Appeals: A decision made or penalty imposed under Policy 70 (Student Petitions and Grievances) (other than a petition) or Policy 71 (Student Discipline) may be appealed if there is a ground. A student who believes he/she has a ground for an appeal should refer to Policy 72 (Student Appeals)

Note for Students with Disabilities: The Office for persons with Disabilities (OPD), located in Needles Hall, Room 1132, collaborates with all academic departments to arrange appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities without compromising the academic integrity of the curriculum. If you require academic accommodations to lessen the impact of your disability, please register with the OPD at the beginning of each academic term. and alternatives: Plagiarism detection software (Turnitin) will be used to screen assignments in this course.  This is being done to verify that use of all material and sources in assignments is documented.  Students will be given an option if they do not want to have their assignment screened by Turnitin.  In the first week of the term, details will be provided about the arrangements for the use of Turnitin and alternatives in this course.

Note: students must be given a reasonable option if they do not want to have their assignment screened by Turnitin.  See: for more information.

John Zelek

April 2016 (in progress)