Elements of teaching design under uncertainty

Stephen Ekwaro-Osire, Fisseha Meresa Alemayehu, Haileyesus Belay Endeshaw, Ricardo Cruz Lozano

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Uncertainty is unavoidable in engineering design. Engineers with knowledge of Design Under Uncertainty (DUU) are able to easily design flexible products with decreased sensitivity to uncertain events. While significant research is being undertaken on DUU, the topic of uncertainty has not been given comparable attention in the area of teaching design. The goal of this paper is to contribute to the enhancement of teaching engineering design. To this effect, the following research question was developed: Is incorporating uncertainty in engineering design important? To solicit the reaction of the stakeholders in this regard, a survey instrument was designed. The survey instrument addresses three aspects of teaching engineering design: The importance of considering uncertainty, the current practice of teaching engineering design, and the way forward. This survey was sent to the design faculty of ABET accredited 89 of the top 100 Graduate Mechanical Engineering schools in the USA. A Power Analysis was performed to estimate statistical significance of the results obtained. Results show that the majority of design faculty in the nation agree that it is important to incorporate the topic of uncertainty in teaching design and that industry will benefit from it. Although many agree on the importance of uncertainty in design education, the majority of educators are still hesitant to integrate uncertainty in teaching design. For this reason, a roadmap of the elements of teaching DUU was constructed and presented. This roadmap is believed to avoid the dilemma and help design faculty to incorporate uncertainty in teaching design. Moreover, while Probability and Statistics courses are usually taught prior to teaching design, there is a need to revitalize students' knowledge of Probability and Statistics in light of teaching uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 2014
Event121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education - Indianapolis, IN, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2014Jun 18 2014


Conference121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityIndianapolis, IN


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