To regain competitiveness in many discrete product markets, it is essential that the U.S. improve its engineering design practices. Although roughly 80% of manufacturing costs are committed during the first 20% of the design process, U.S. management has focussed almost exclusively on "downstream" manufacturing operations to effect cost and quality improvements. This article reexamines the role of engineering design education programs, research efforts, and the design knowledge tools and practices used in manufacturing firms. To fully utilize engineering design as a competitiveness weapon, the U.S. must build a new engineering design infrastructure by expanding design research, revitalizing design education, and revolutionizing engineering design practice.
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