The question is common among non-engineering types, as is the misuse and transposing of the words. What is the difference REALLY between engineering and designing? Both words mean dorks doing something technical with pencils and computers, so don’t they mean the same thing?
Engineering: The development of a system which accomplishes a functional goal.
Designing: The planning of a system’s layout to illicit an emotional response or facilitate user interaction.
- You engineer a car drive-train to produce 500hp; you design the surrounding car to look powerful.
- You engineer a bridge to hold a rush-hour’s worth of cars and tractor trailers; you design the bridge to be beautiful and compliment its surroundings.
- You engineer a wrist watch to hold time to 1 second over 1 million years; you design that wrist watch to look handsome or sexy.
- You engineer a kitchen microwave oven to output 1400W of power; you design the microwave to have an easy-to-use button layout or look modern.