Design with a Broad Knowledge of What Already Exists
Take the Time to Research
Another great quality of an engineering team or individual is to have broad knowledge of what components, design approaches and technologies already exist. Not including this information is a typical mistake, especially early on in one’s career. Some engineers may be tempted to design something that already exists or, at the very least, may spend a significant amount of time and resources exploring inefficient design concepts.
It is greatly beneficial to take the time to research and understand product design, including the reasons for their features, and what works, doesn’t work, or could be improved upon. This goes beyond the typical marketing competitive analysis that a company produces—make sure to do an analysis at the engineering and design level. This approach may also lead to new product or new feature ideas that have not yet been considered. For the highest quality, develop a broad knowledge base and familiarity with existing technology, components, and design approaches.
- Spend a portion of your time going through component catalogs and, for items of interest, make a point to remember (or create a record of) their name, function and potential applications.
- Expand your knowledge base beyond mechanical components, systems and methods. Being a talented, versatile engineer includes a broad knowledge base that expands into the fields of electronics, sensors, control systems and more.
- Subscribe to technology-related periodicals and review them on a regular basis.
- Study relevant designs at the technical level. This is not about copying designs. Instead, learn, compare, brainstorm and gain creative inspiration from them.
- Study the technical world around you. Everywhere you look, there is technology. If you are serious and passionate about sharpening your design and engineering skills, you will, over time, learn how most everything around you works.
**The article above is an excerpt of "Top 10 Mechanical Design Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)". If you enjoyed this article, sign up below to receive the full PDF!
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