The Engineering Design Process is a cyclic method employed to address challenges and craft designs. Its iterative nature encourages experimentation and learning from mistakes, fostering innovation. With its open-ended approach, the process promotes creativity and the exploration of various solutions until optimal outcomes are achieved.

Steps of The Engineering Design Process


Identify who and what the final design is intended for and what constraints need to be addressed.

This means  you should ensure that you know who the end user of your design is. Are you designing something for public use? Is the design intended to be a product that is going to be used by kids? You also need to make sure you understand the constraints that are going to be on your design. Constraints are the limiting factors to your design that are outside of your control. Things like cost, location, time, materials, to name a few are constraints that will inform your design decisions and what your final design solution will look like. 


Look for similar solutions to similar problems that already exist and see how they may be helpful for your design. 

There is a very good chance that you are not the first person that is designing something similar to what you are trying to design. Look for similar design solutions so that you are not reinventing the wheel. Do not just blatantly copy someone else's design but allow for other good designs to be part of the tool box that you can pull ideas from for your own design. 


Break the problem down into components to help guide you in developing multiple ideas that may or may not work as a design solution. 

There are a lot of good ways to brainstorm and develop ideas for a design. Try a bunch of deferent ones like a morph chart or mind map and see which one works best for you. It is important to not get hung up on the first idea you come up with and jumping right into designing because often times your first idea won't be the best at addressing the problem you can come up with. That's why breaking the problem down into components and trying to address each one individually with multiple solutions then bringing them all together will lead to a better design.  


Pick one design that you want to develop further that you feel addresses the problem the best and meets all the constraints.  

Once you go through the entire brainstorming process you need to narrow down the possible design solutions to one that you want to move forward with. If you broken the problem down into components then you can combine design aspects into one cohesive design that meets the constraints and fully addresses the problem. Just because you chose a design idea to flesh doesn't mean you have to stick with it though. If you foresee issues with the design make adjustments, you want to create the best design you can.      


Create and build your design and ensure that it will address the problem and fit within the constraints.  

With a fully fleshed out design that you feel best fits the problem your next step is to actually produce what you have designed. The process of prototyping means that the design is being built to the specifications laid out in the design. You will find methods that work and do not work during production and may end up finding that the design needs to be changed during the prototyping phase. This does not mean that you have a bad design, just that the process is working and you found an area for improvement.  


Check your design solution vs the problem and collect data to make sure it is meeting all of the constraints.   

Testing a prototype means that you are collecting data on how well the design does at meeting the constraints and solving the problem. The design may do well in certain areas vs others and you as a designer need to weigh how important each aspect is. It may not be possible for your design to preform equally well in all aspects so take this step of data analysis importantly. If it is not preforming well in an area you think is important then make sure you address that and adjust your design.     


Review your test results and analyze what went right or wrong with your solution. Then iterate through the whole process again.   

A few areas I have already mentioned that you may have to go back and adjust your design and that is a very important. You do not have to consider your design done just because you built it one time. That is why the EDP is also called the design loop. Go back to previous steps and redesign your solution. There is always room for improvement and learning from each iteration of your design. Allow for failure and keep working on your design solution until you are satisfied with the results.     

The Paper Tower

Background Knowledge:

What You'll Need

2ft Tape

7 Sheets of Paper


Problem Statement

In this engineering design challenge, your task is to design and construct a paper tower that can reach impressive heights while holding a load and maintaining structural integrity. Follow the steps of the EDP for your solution. 

Design Considerations & Constraints


Evaluation Criteria

Your paper tower design will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

Steps of The Engineering Design Process (EDP)