I have been contemplating writing a textbook to accompany the project based learning courses that I have been teaching for the past 15 years. As a matter fact, the first drafts of the book I was thinking of are saved on floppy disks and I do not have the technology to read them anymore! This perhaps is a good thing as I kept on changing what should the book be about and how it is pitched. I started with the idea of writing a book that outlines the skills and techniques needed by engineers and engineering students to run successful design projects. Supervising hundreds of engineering projects myself, I now can attest that skills and techniques for design are necessary, but not enough to make a good design engineer. What I experienced again and again that successful design projects are often driven by a powerful dream that is backed by endless passion.

Working with students’ teams and sharing their moments of triumphs as well as their moments of defeat, my perspective on design, engineering and project-based learning has profoundly changed. My current frame of mind is that the best way of preparing graduates for life is to create an environment in which they can find their passion and cultivate a growth mindset that views failure as a necessary prerequisite to success and learning. An environment where students can dream big, be different and have fun is the prerequisite for them to be able to develop self-awareness, positive attitudes and the confidence that they can contribute to making the world a better place. Once this foundation is laid down, provision of skills and techniques can go a long way to develop effective designs.

Besides my academic and teaching duties, I also consulted for and trained executives from multi-national corporations. The clients I served ranged from technology firms to energy companies and banks. What I noticed was that the clients with non-engineering background often appreciate the engineering structure that I bring when addressing challenges. Some clients are even surprised with the way we train engineers and shared with me that this should be the way all education is conducted. This book is about how to train an engineering mindset in a project based learning environment. However, it is ultimately about human achievement and it can be easily used at any level including self-help. The aim here is to start transforming, or rather bringing back, higher education to have its goal to be the achievement  of human potential (with obtaining employment and economic freedom as part of it) rather than having employment as the goal in itself.

While this book is primarily about engineering and how engineers think, address technical challenges and realise opportunities, the content in the book is written in such a way that it can be used by students and professionals in any field to develop a systematic approach address the challenges in almost any field from marketing to medicine.

The book is based on the intuitive process of CDIO (Conceive, Design, Implement, Operate) which traces the lifecycle of a product, service or process. It also draws on the latest brain and thinking research making it applicable in many human interactions. The CDIO process was initially developed as a framework to reform engineering education to enable the universities to produce ‘engineers that can engineer.’

This book is aimed to be both a textbook for engineering and science students as well as a general read for anyone who is interested in engineering, system and critical thinking and engineering education. It has chapters that are dedicated to thinking and how the brain works as well as techniques to cultivate positive attitudes besides the systematic Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate chapters.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1


Chapter 5

Communication & Teamwork

Chapter 9


Chapter 2


Chapter 6

Managing Projects for Success

Chapter 10

CDIO & Structured P Solving

Chapter 13

Emotional Intelligence

Chapter 3


Chapter 7

Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Value

Chapter 11

Sustainability, Global & Ethical Issues in Engineering & Design

Chapter 14


Chapter 4

Ergonomics: Human-Centred Design

Chapter 8

Return on Failure

Chapter 12