Skip to main content
Contribution to Book
Engineering Design Education: Research, Practice and Examples that Link the Two
Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research (2014)
  • Cynthia J. Atman
  • Ozgur Eris, Delft University of Technology
  • Janet McDonnell
  • Monica E. Cardella, Purdue University
  • Jim Borgford-Parnell

Designing is a key component of professional practice in many fields of human endeavor (e.g., Architecture, Engineering, Industrial Design, Art, and Literature). For engineers, designing integrates engineering knowledge, skill, and vision in the pursuit of innovations to solve problems and enable modern life.

With this understanding, engineering educators have, for several decades, been infusing their programs with design curricula and pedagogical experiences in order to enhance the design competencies of engineering graduates. Paralleling the development of these curricula and experiences, a growing body of research has been providing a scholarly basis for engineering design education.

The goal of this chapter is to acquaint the reader with engineering design education research and practice. To situate engineering design education in the larger context, we first present a brief history of research on design processes across several fields and then move to a more specific description of research on engineering design processes. We then focus on research that investigates effective ways to teach and assess the design process, and review curricular structures and pedagogies that are commonly used in undergraduate engineering programs.

We build on our overview of research and practice related to engineering design education with two worked examples of moving research into practice in the classroom, following the Scholarship on Teaching and Learning model suggested by Boyer (Boyer, 1990). The first example illustrates how laboratory-based research findings on engineering design processes can be brought into the classroom. The second example illustrates how educators can execute an observe-analyze-intervene cycle within the context of a project-based engineering design course. These illustrations demonstrate the efficacy of two different models for leveraging research to improve student learning.

  • Engineering design,
  • education,
  • research
Publication Date
Aditya Johri and Barbara Olds
Cambridge University Press
Citation Information
Cynthia J. Atman, Ozgur Eris, Janet McDonnell, Monica E. Cardella, et al.. "Engineering Design Education: Research, Practice and Examples that Link the Two" Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research (2014)
Available at: