Praxis engineering design
As part of my first year in the University of Toronto Engineering Science program, I had the opportunity to develop engineering design skills through the completion of two courses, Praxis I and II. These courses were project-based and required us to work in teams.
The primary focus of Praxis I was in teaching us students to think critically about engineering design opportunities and how to best approach the process of creating solutions to various opportunities. The majority of the course was comprised of an engineering design project in which teams were tasked with first identifying and detailing a specific engineering design opportunity and then with using the engineering design process to create a solution to the opportunity.
In identifying and detailing an engineering design opportunity, my team produced a Design Brief document which outlined the nature of the opportunity and the requirements needing to met by a proposed solution.
In proposing a solution to the engineering design opportunity, my team produced a Final Release document which detailed our solution and evaluated how well it would solve the challenge.
The primary focus of Praxis II was in teaching students to think more broadly about how we identify and approach engineering design opportunities. In part, this involved the direct interaction with communities at all stages of the process and the explicit goal of attempting to improve the lived experiences of others through engineering design.
The first part of the course involved teams being tasked with reaching out to local communities to learn how they live their lives and then to identify parts of their lives which have the potential to be improved through engineering design. This part of the course required teams to stay away from the consideration of solutions in order to ensure that we first took the time to develop an understanding of the communities and opportunities which our solutions would later be applied to. The outcome of this part of the course was a comprehensive Request for Proposal (RFP) document which described the community our team decided to focus on in detail along with the challenges they faced, the requirements needing to be met by a proposed solution, and other relevant information.
The second part of the course involved teams responding to one of the RFPs created by another student team by creating a solution to the opportunities described. Consultation with the communities in question, prototyping and iteration, and evaluation of our proposed solution were all conducted as part of the solution process. Our final proposed solution was presented during a showcase in which the public, including stakeholders from the community in question, were invited to learn about our work. A Project Poster was designed to describe our solution to the opportunity and a One-Pager was created to give a summary of the opportunity and of our solution. Representatives from Toronto’s Allan Gardens Conservatory reached out to my team after the showcase to ask for copies of our work so it could be used to aid in their efforts to solve the same opportunity my team had been working on solving.
Oh, and one more thing
One final item I’d like to share from these courses is the Personal Design Process and Tools (PDPT) document I created as part of Praxis II. The purpose of this document was to summarize what was learned from both courses by referencing the lectures and then detailing my personal design process that I developed over the year. The document describes my experiences and shows how my personal design process was applied to the Praxis II project.