What makes an engineering design successful? It isn’t just solving technical challenges. The device needs to serve the end user. Subaru designed a simple car that met the needs of a generation. A recently developed fire starter is high tech, but is more expensive than a match and requires infrastructure. There are inherent advantages to using ultrasound to dry clothes instead of hot air, but technical challenges remain. In the end, which design will be deemed most successful? Happy reading.
There’s got to be a better way to dry clothes than to just burn through energy and throw hot air at the laundry. Wait; now there is! Ultrasound technology is said to be 70% more efficient and take half the time. It also produces less lint.
New Atlas, August 2016
Now designated an engineering heritage item, this car isn’t a technical marvel, but an efficient, utilitarian design. It ascended to cultural icon because it was a fit for the market. However, in a different market it was withdrawn as a failure.
Digital Trends, August 2016
“Scientists generally agree that no theory is 100 percent correct. Thus, the real test of knowledge is not truth, but utility.” Unlike scientists, engineers are focussed on utility. We require solutions even with incomplete knowledge.
So what would an engineer with an interest in low-tech, old-school charcoal barbecues create? How about a starter that, while technically superior to a match, costs several orders of magnitude more and requires you to have a source of 120V AC electricity?