Analysis is the essence of being an engineer; it is what distinguishes an engineer from a technician. Engineering analysis helps us make decisions and guide the design process. A design project without analysis is like a softball team without a coach, a ship without a sail, or a class without a teacher — imagine that! So what is engineering analysis, exactly? Basically, it is the breaking down of an object, system or problem, into its fundamental parts to understand their relationships to each other and to outside elements.
Let’s say you are a part of a team of engineers working to reduce the number of car accidents that occur during rush-hour traffic. You might start by generating a set of design alternatives to this problem: Expand the roads and highways? Build more bike routes? Design a new subway system? Let’s say your team determines the best alternative is the expansion of roads and highways. Now another design analysis is needed: How many new stoplights should be constructed? How many lanes do we need? How much money will it cost to maintain these new roads? Will many trees need to be cut down? If so, will this displace birds and other wildlife?
Do you see how the engineering analysis includes much more than the object or system being designed? Even in the case of building a new road, engineers must analyze the impacts of the new road on the city budget and environment.