IED Unit 7: Reverse Engineering

Working backward to define how an object works and how to improve it

REVERSE ENGINEERING

Many engineers are tasked with the job of taking things that have already been made, and taking them apart to understand how they work. This process of reverse engineering can give engineers insight into the functionality of different products, how they’re successful, or ways they could be improved. Our job in this unit is to explore the different roles of reverse engineering including:

  • Visual design and analysis
  • Functional analysis
  • Structural analysis

The process of reverse engineering requires careful observation and notetaking. In this unit, we’ll get to practice the reverse engineering process on an object of your choosing!. This unit will have three main parts:

  1. STEP 1: Take some notes on visual design, and then carefully consider and describe the visual designs of your chosen object.
  2. STEP 2: Take careful notes on functional and structural analysis, then carefully dismantle your object, drawing the different parts as they are removed, and giving a functional and structural analysis.
  3. STEP 3: Compile your thoughts on the visual, functional, and structural components of your chosen object. Propose an improvement to the object and describe how it would impact the factors you described!

When you’re done with this unit, you will understand the kinds of things engineers need to look for when they reverse engineer other products.  This process will be useful as we look to improve things that have already been made.

PART 1: VISUAL DESIGN

(20 pts) About 2 days

The process of reverse engineering always starts with an analysis of the visual design of the object.  In this case, that means considering the use of line, color, shape, contrast, and other elements and principles of design.

PART 2: FUNCTIONAL & STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS

(30 pts) About 3 days

Once a visual analysis is complete, it’s time to look at the function and structure of the object.  This involves dismantling the object to determine how it works, and why it was structurally built the way it was built.

PART 3: PRODUCT IMPROVEMENT

(20 pts) About 3 days

One purpose of reverse engineering is to better understand an object so that it can be redesigned or improved. In this part of the unit, you’ll design, describe, and draw a proposed improvement to your object.

Part 1: Visual Design

Understanding how to describe the visual aspects of a product

Example Elements & Principles Matrix

Artists and engineers both use the elements of design and principles of composition to create things that are visually appealing.  As an engineer, you need to be able to look at an object and consider how a visual designer made it aesthetically appealing.  You also need to be able to consider improvements in visual design to make your own projects more awesome.

GRADING & PROCESS

Watch the video on visual design and take a full page of careful notes

 Watch the video on visual analysis and take careful notes

Sketch your object, then complete a written visual analysis of your chosen object in your engineering notebook

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your notes, sketch, and visual analysis

Visual Design

Elements of Design

Principles of Composition

What’s Due In Part 1: Visual Design

  • Design Notes
  • Analysis Notes
  • Visual Analysis
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Confirmation

Here’s what’s due in Part 1: Visual Design

  1. Notes on visual design
  2. Notes on visual analysis
  3. Sketch of your object and a written visual analysis in your notebook
  4. Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your notes, sketch, and visual analysis

Part 2: Functional and Structural Analysis

Investigating both why and how things are made

Sample Disassembly Chart

Once we’ve determined why an object or project is visually successful, we then need to look at the function and structure of the object.  The function of the object refers to what it actually does, as well as what the internal parts do. In many cases, this refers to the working mechanisms inside the object.  The structure of the object refers to how it is built, how it is made durable and how it holds all the pieces in place.  In this part of the unit, we’ll look at both the function and structure of our objects and diagram their composition.

GRADING & PROCESS

 Watch the videos on functional and structural analysis and take a full page of careful notes

 Dismantle your object carefully, sketching at least 5 of the main parts as they are removed

 Write out a complete functional analysis as well as a structural analysis in your engineering notebook

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your notes, sketches, functional, and structural analyses

What is Reverse Engineering?

Functional Analysis

 

Structural Analysis

Product Disassembly

What’s Due In Part 2: Functional and Structural Analysis

  • Analysis Notes
  • Object Part Sketches
  • Functional & Structural Analyses
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Confirmation

Here’s what’s due in Part 2: Functional and Structural Analysis

  1. Notes on functional & structural analysis
  2. Sketches of the main components of your object as it is dismantled
  3. Functional and structural analyses of your object
  4. Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your notes, sketch, functional, and structural analyses

Part 3: Product Improvement

Reverse engineering to inform the improvement of a product

Product Improvement Overview

After a visual, structural, and functional analysis has been conducted an engineer can start planning product improvements.  Maybe the engineer thinks that a different visual design would make the product more appealing.  Maybe a different way of building would make it more durable. Or perhaps a different system or mechanism could make the object more efficient.  Your job in this part of the unit is to propose, describe, and draw/model your suggested improvement.

GRADING & PROCESS

 Brainstorm, design, and concept sketch an idea for an improvement to your chosen object

 Work out the details of your product improvement and create a model either through Multiview sketching, Autodesk, or prototyping in the makerspace.

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your product improvement documentation and model.

What’s Due In Part 3: Product Improvement

  • Documentation
  • Prototype Model
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Confirmation

Here’s what’s due in Part 3: Product Improvement

  1. Document your engineering design process in your engineering notebook.
  2. Create a detailed model of your proposed product improvement
  3. Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your documentation and product model

Double Check: Unit Expectations

Check what you need to have completed by the unit deadline

The purpose of this unit is to look at the various things engineers need to consider in the reverse engineering process.  In this unit you should learn the basics behind visual design, as well as functional and structural decisions that engineers need to look for.  In addition, you should have had the chance to dismantle an object of your own choosing so that you can consider how and why things are built. Finally, you should have had the chance to design and develop your own improvement for your chosen product.

Engineering Notebook:

(Part 1) You should have taken detailed notes on visual design and visual analysis

(Part 2) You should have taken good notes on structural analysis and functional analysis

(Part 3) You should have made a nice concept sketch of your proposed product improvement, as well as a detailed model in your chosen method

Building & Making:

(Part 1) You should have made a visual analysis of your object and written your analysis in your engineering notebook

 (Part 2) You should have made both a structural and a functional analysis of your object and rcorded it in your engineering notebook

(Part 3) You should have developed a product improvement and made a detailed model of your improvement through either Multiview sketching, Autodesk, or in the makerspace

Checkpoints & Quizzes:

(Part 1) Mr. Benshoof should have checked-off your notes and visual analysis

(Part 2) Mr. Benshoof should have checked-off your notes, structural analysis, and functional analysis.

 (Part 3) Mr. Benshoof should have confirmed your design documentation and product improvement model