Texas Tech University

Challenge 5: "Think Like an Engineer"


Challenge 5 focuses on how engineers design new products and solve complex challenges. The Engineering Design Process is a series of steps that engineers use to guide them as they solve problems.

The Engineering Design Process is cyclical and can begin at any step, or move back and forth between steps numerous times. While having a guide is useful for beginners who are learning about engineering, it is important to note that practicing engineers do not adhere to a rigid step-by-step interpretation of the process. In real life, engineers often work on just one or two steps and then pass along their work to another team.

Learning Outcome:

  • Formulating your own LEGO robotics challenge
  • Application of the engineering design process using LEGO robotics
  • Setting realistic goals
  • Documenting the engineering design process

Materials Needed (per group of three students):

  • 1 LEGO EV3 kit or LEGO NXT kit
  • Paper and pencil or computer to document design process


  • The Engineering is Elementary website has an excellent description of the Engineering Design Process. You may want to have your students visit the website on their computer or print out an Engineering Design Process Handout for them to use while working on the challenge.
  • Decide how much time students should be allowed to work on this challenge. We recommend anywhere from one to five hours.
  • Decide what media students should use to document their design process (paper, word document, camera, etc.)

Approximate Time Needed:

  • One to five hours

Challenge Tasks:

5.1 Students, consider how much time you have available for this task and formulate a challenge that you want your robot to solve. The challenge could be as simple as moving an object from one location to another, or a little more complex, like stacking several objects on top of one another.

5.2 Follow the engineering design process described here or here. Answer the questions suggested on the website for each step of the engineering design process as they relate to your problem statement. You might have to go through the whole engineering design process several times until you obtain your goal.

5.3 Compare your product to your original goal. Which parts of the goal were you able to accomplish? Which ones were not realistic?