Observational studies of engineering design activities can inform the research community on the problem solving models that are employed by professional engineers. Design is defined as an ill-defined problem which includes both engineering design and software design, hence understanding problem solving models from other design domains is of interest to the engineering design community. For this paper an observational study of two software design sessions performed for the workshop on “Studying professional Software Design” is compared to analysis from engineering design. These findings provide useful insights of how software designers move from a problem domain to a solution domain and the commonalities between software designers’ and engineering designers’ design activities. The software designers were found to move quickly to a detailed design phase, employ co-evolution and adopt a predominantly depth-first approach to developing their solutions. A mapping between the activities of engineering design onto the activities of a general model of software design is also presented. A discussion about the potential consequences of the key findings across the design domains is described.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.