On the use and abuse of Technology and its Management from the perspective of an academic at UCL specialising in Project Management, Systems Engineering and Space Science/Technology.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Philosophy of Engineering Design

To the Royal Academy of Engineering for a mini-conference on the Philosophy of Engineering Design.

You what?

Well, apart from the great, good and grey nodding sagely at society's lack of wisdom in taking more notice of engineers, it was a nice little exploration into the essence of design. Creativity came up a lot, but since this is engineering and not art or science, so did usefulness.

What's the use of a philosophy of design? Well, for me, it's as a step ladder off the flatland of business as usual, where we waste energy by using yesterday's processes against today's problems. The activity of philosophy is hard work, but real life should be easy by comparison. Philosophical, or let's just call them abstract, investigations into the nature of engineering processes should tell us why they are working and allow us to guess (it will only be a guess) what the better processes, for tomorrow's problems might look like.

Maarten Franssen showed us, as his comedy slot, the 16th century musket drill (take your fuse...). Taylorism in the military. Not for the first time I bet, it reminded my of Chinese martial arts forms. And Nelson had a gun drill too. The point of this training is to allow the actual work to go more quickly, without thought. The modern military strategist uses drills too, to close the OODA loop and to tailor processes rapidly.

4 comments:

Mustafa Arif said...

I think the philosophy of engineering design should be a compulsory component of all undergraduate engineering programmes.

SuperJane said...

Talking about the philosophy of engineering design - this is a horrible template compared to your last one which had the really cool picture of you across the top of the page - and the site looked really welcoming and warm - even to us non-techhies.

Can we have the old template and handsome piccie of you back Matt?

Matt Whyndham said...

Probably not. I'll obviously try and integrate a cool mug shot, but as time permits. This new breed of blogger templates was partly forced by the new Blogger, it's too much messing about to go back completely.

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