This is a position paper.
Traditional engineering has focused on the design goal and all efforts have been paid to achieve design requirements and design specifications with the highest quality. Such engineering is indeed necessary to develop very high tech products or very sophisticated products.
But on the other hand, there are needs for engineering which makes the most of the available resources. To borrow Theodore Roosevelt’s words, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” is the philosophy of such an approach.
Current engineering is convergent engineering or tree-structured engineering. We invent or use many technologies to achieve our high goal. But if we look at the developing countries, local people are not capable of using such high sophisticated systems and what makes the matter worse, materials, etc. which are needed are not available locally. For them, what is more important is how they can utilize their own local materials or resources and develop a system which can be used and repaired by themselves.
Thus, not only physical resources, but such resources as human, etc. must be considered how to utilize them in order to cater to their local needs. And in fact, if we are successful in developing such local products by utilizing their own local resources, it would increase employment and the market will grow up. In short, low-end to high-end industrial development can be expected.
To achieve this, we need divergent engineering. An engineering to think how we can make the most of the resources at hand. The product thus developed may be low tech, but has quality and performance to satisfy the local needs enough.
And it should be added that such low tech products would serve to cater to quickly aging society as well. Products that call for high capabilities cannot be used by seniors. So unless products are for a professional user, even in advanced countries, most of which are suffering from the problem of quick aging populations, very high tech and sophisticated products will not meet the aging customers’ needs or expectations. We need much simpler and intuitive engineering.
Engineering is an activity to satisfy our dreams. But current convergent technology is too much stuck on the traditional path. Convergent engineering helps engineering going higher and higher, but it does not help it going wider and wider. It requires high expertise not only on the side of the producer, but also on the side of the customer.
To expand engineering wider and wider, we need divergent engineering. This paper discussed the importance of divergent engineering and describes its importance with illustrative examples.