Dr. Scott Ferguson

Dr. Scott Ferguson

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Phone: 919-515-5231
Instructor Website
Research Website

MAE 526 Fundamentals of Product Design

3 Credit Hours

The growing body of research in the engineering design community provides approaches for navigating the design of consumer products using interdisciplinary design tools and economic models based on the construct of rational decision making. This course introduces scientific engineering design techniques that are more effective than “ad hoc” tactics. By exploring how engineering principles integrate with “real world” design challenges, students will learn how they can more effectively solve product design problems that encompass heterogeneous markets, multiple disciplines, and complex systems.



Course Objectives

At the end of this class, you will have learned to approach design in a systematic way and will be able to:

  • Define and analyze customer needs in product design
  • Create alternative solutions using brainstorming techniques
  • Define the core components of a product
  • Synthesize information from multiple disciplines and multiple objectives when designing a product
  • Apply appropriate techniques for capturing/representing the heterogeneous preferences of a consumer market
  • Apply product design strategies when accounting for sources of consumer variability
  • Analyze alternative solutions and scientifically identify the best candidates
  • Demonstrate how uncertainty can be modeled in the design process
  • Assess the environmental impact of a product by considering the product’s lifecycle
  • Critique how current design research advancements will see use in the next 15-20 years

Course Topics

  • Introduction to product design and product development processes
  • Market growth, task planning, and customer requirements
      ◦ Kano model
      ◦ Critical Path Method and PERT
      ◦ Bass diffusion model
      ◦ Customer needs as requirements
  • Conceptual design
      ◦ Functional decomposition, Axiomatic design
      ◦ QFD and House of Quality
      ◦ Brainstorming techniques, Pugh Concept Selection technique
      ◦ Innovation and creativity
  • Embodiment design
      ◦ Establishing a product architecture and understanding functional relationships
      ◦ S-Model, Conjoint analysis and Discrete choice when modeling customer preferences
      ◦ Determining product value
      ◦ Product platforms and product families
  • Limitations of existing design theories and methodologies
      ◦ Mathematical validity/provability of techniques
      ◦ Challenges of concept selection
  • Advanced design concepts
      ◦ Design for the developing world
      ◦ Uncertainty in engineering design
      ◦ Sustainable product design
      ◦ Design for variety and product customization

Course Requirements

Homework – 25%

Final – 20%

Projects  – 40%
A series of projects will be assigned as the semester progresses. The focus of each project will be to apply the techniques learned in this class to a real-world design problem

Research paper – 15%


There will be no required textbook, and necessary references will be provided.

Computer and Software Requirements

Please review the minimum computer specifications that NC State University and Engineering Online recommend.

Updated: 10/31/2022