In Asking the Beautiful Question: Design and engineering, Ian Curry ponders the differences and similarities between the enterprise (and evaluation of) engineering versus that of design, and sees some opportunities for not only common language, but common metrics. Here's our favorite part:
As anyone who has ever tinkered with an old BMW engine or looked out on to the wing of a jet can attest, near pure response to engineering requirements can sometimes deliver just as much pleasure as a more intentionally aesthetic design process. Clearly there are differences between engineering and visual design in terms of both the work, and ways of working. As a designer with a relationship mostly to the tradition of visual design, I have recently begun to wonder what exactly those differences are.
And here's a juicy bit to set the hook:
Rice describes engineers often receiving solutions fully formed after a period of rumination. In Rice's account, this owes to a fundamental characteristic of engineering process: engineers are trained to begin not by thinking of solutions, but constraints; successive constraints are applied until only one solution is possible. A good solution owes at least as much to the proper design of constraints as to the eventual solution they imply.