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What is the core issue of engineering design teaching? The different parts of the design process are important but perhaps the most important is the multidisciplinary nature of design. Even the simplest engineering design involves several different engineering disciplines- so it is essential that a ‘multidisciplinary view’ is built into the design process.

One way of highlighting this approach, as part of a eaching programme, is to look not only at how products are designed but also at how their components can fail. Case studies provide a useful way of looking at this, particularly those that incorporate a range of engineering disciplines. This is intended to be a book which can help learning, rather than a chronology of engineering experience. The case studies have been chosen from real life engineering design projects.

Their purpose is to expose students to a wide variety of design activities and situations, including those which have incomplete or imperfect information. The student is also introduced to positive aspects such as the innovation and forward-thinking that make ‘good design’ what it is. The three traditional parts of the design process: conceptual design, embodiment design and detailed engineering design, appear in many of the case studies; in some they are separated for clarity, but in others they are left ‘mixed up’-the way that they often occur in the real design world.

All the case studies contain a certain amount of innovation- one of the themes of this book is to encourage the student to be innovative, to try new ideas, whilst not losing sight of sound and well-proven engineering practice. The chapters are written in a way that requires the student to perform tasks related to each case study. I believe that this is the best way of learning. The method of approaching design problems is all-important so different methodologies are identified and explained, in Chapter 2.

These principles should not be applied rigidly to all of the case studies but are sometimes best used in parts – there are opportunities to use bits of these ‘methodology’ principles in all but the simplest case studies covered in the book. There are a few areas of the book where it has been necessary to sacrifice some academic rigour for practical engineering considerations.

This does not mean that basic theoretical assumptions have been ignored but merely that there is not always room in each study text to include the full theoretical analysis. This can be reinforced, during lectures or classwork, as necessary. I have tried to make this book a multidisciplinary introduction to engineering design using case studies that are interesting. If you find any errors (they do creep in) or you can see possible improvements, and certainly if you feel that the case studies are not interesting, then say so. You can write to me c/o the publishers at the address given on page (iv)of this book.


This textbook is most welcome within the design community as it provides students and practising engineers with a host of practical and accessible case studies for consideration. The studies all arise from the author’s extensive personal experience and are therefore representative of situations with which engineers are faced in professional life. The methodology for approaching the case studies is developed at the beginning of the book prior to application in the remaining chapters.

For each case study the objectives, relevant background information and the case study tasks are presented and defined, providing the starting point for attempting the task. The text covers an attractively wide range of applications and disciplines representative of the current interdisciplinary approach to design. For the student engineer this text can be used to help stimulate skills in practical approaches to design problems. For the engineering lecturer these studies can be used as the basis for formal presentation and the setting of case studies.