Uncertainty Topics for Engineering Design Courses


Uncertainty commonly exists in engineering applications, especially in a design process. Quantifying and managing uncertainty is often a core consideration during the design stage. Due to its importance in engineering practices, uncertainty is gradually introduced and taught in a number of engineering courses. Uncertainty topics, however, are still limited and the teaching materials on uncertainty are still currently lacking. This paper focuses on possible topics that could be introduced in various engineering courses, particularly in design courses. The topics cover the following aspects: identify and take actions on potential failure modes, account for system reliability in the early design stage, quantify the effect of uncertainty, and mitigate the effect of uncertainty in latter design stages. This paper also introduces basics of related design methodologies, such as reliability-based design, robust design, and design for six sigma in order for interested educators to develop familiarity of uncertainty. This paper also reports the implementation and experience of uncertainty education at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Meeting Name

ASME 2016 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference (2016: Aug. 21-24, Charlotte, NC)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Research Center/Lab(s)

Intelligent Systems Center

Keywords and Phrases

Curricula; Design; Education; Process engineering; Product design; Reliability; Teaching; Technical presentations; Design for Six Sigma; Early design stages; Engineering applications; Engineering design course; Engineering practices; Managing uncertainty; Reliability based design; Science and Technology; Engineering education

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2016 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2016