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Wednesday, January 28, 2009


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AP Content :: Decisive Designs

The Complexity of the Design Process
by Jeff Miller, M.S.

Typically, in the first semester of engineering school, an introductory course presents broad concepts about engineering. Students may learn the basic differences in the engineering fields (e.g., civil, electrical, mechanical, chemical, structural, etc.). They may spend some time considering ethical dilemmas that engineers have often faced in their careers. First-year students also usually give some consideration to the design process. Even in its basic form, the design process proves to be very complex, even before considering the specialized scientific knowledge required to design a given item.

Many steps are necessary in order to get a product to the public. Consider one introductory engineering textbook’s template for the design process (see Introduction to Engineering..., 2004, pp. 10,32):

Problem symptom or expression; definition of product need; marketing information
Problem definition, including statement of desired outcome
Conceptual design and evaluation; feasibility study
Design analysis; codes/standards review; physical and analytical models
Synthesis of alternative solutions (back to design analysis for iterations)
Decision (selection of one alternative)
Prototype production; testing and evaluation (back to design analysis for more iterations)
Production drawings; instruction manuals
Material specification; process and equipment selection; safety review
Pilot production
Inspection and quality assurance
Packaging; marketing and sales literature
The design process is unquestionably lengthy, technical, complex, and calculated.

Now consider the Universe. Consider the perfect interaction between all entities in this Universe: between plants and animals; between animals and humans; between the Sun and Earth; between the Moon and Earth; between insects and plants; between the circulatory system and the respiratory system. The list could go on infinitely. The finely-tuned machine that we call the Universe is an engineering feat of amazing proportions. Consider the knowledge level and expertise that would be necessary for such perfect design—knowledge and expertise that humans lack. The created order implies an omniscient and eternal Designer, Who must be the Chief Engineer of all engineers, to have produced such a product.

Will a series of random accidents over millions of years result in sophisticated photographic equipment? And then, if given enough time, will that camera eventually spontaneously come to life? And then, given enough additional time, will that living camera grow legs and start walking around? The first step is impossible, much less the subsequent steps. The complexity and design inherent in the camera demands more than mere happenstance. However, turning to the design that the camera emulates, the human eye, scientists assert that the eye could have just happened on its own by accident. But that viewpoint is incorrect. Both products required design in order to get them to the “consumer”—and one took much more knowledge and insight than the other.

If someone were to throw a rock into space, would it eventually spontaneously explode? And from that explosion, is it logical to conclude that that rock would come to life, grow wings, and have babies that evolve into other creatures? To ask is to answer.

Scientists recognize the complexity of the design process. However, when they peer into the amazing Universe, many of these scientists abandon logic and reason, and assert that it all just happened by accident. Many of the engineering feats of the creation are unparalleled by human designs and always will be, even if we spent countless hours, millions of dollars, and used a multitude of engineers. Evolutionists believe that this Universe, which is infinitely more complex and sophisticated than anything humans could ever design, especially without engaging in biomimicry, just happened on its own? Go figure.

Introduction to Engineering at Auburn University: Manufacturing—Industrial and Systems Engineering (2004), (Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Publishing).


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