IED Unit 7
Reverse Engineering
Reverse Engineering Introduction
Welcome to Unit 7

Many engineers are tasked with the job of taking things that have already been made, and taking them apart to understand how they work. This process of reverse engineering can give engineers insight into the functionality of different products, how they’re successful, or ways they could be improved. Our job in this unit is to explore the different roles of reverse engineering including:

  • Visual design and analysis
  • Functional analysis
  • Structural analysis

The process of reverse engineering requires careful observation and notetaking. In this unit, we’ll get to practice the reverse engineering process on an object of your choosing!. This unit will have three main parts:

  1. STEP 1: Take some notes on visual design, and then carefully consider and describe the visual designs of your chosen object.
  2. STEP 2: Take careful notes on functional and structural analysis, then carefully dismantle your object, drawing the different parts as they are removed, and giving a functional and structural analysis.
  3. STEP 3: Compile your thoughts on the visual, functional, and structural components of your chosen object. Propose an improvement to the object and describe how it would impact the factors you described!

When you’re done with this unit, you will understand the kinds of things engineers need to look for when they reverse engineer other products.  This process will be useful as we look to improve things that have already been made.


Part 1: Visual Design

Elements and Principles

Artists and engineers both use the elements of design and principles of composition to create things that are visually appealing.  As an engineer, you need to be able to look at an object and consider how a visual designer made it aesthetically appealing. You also need to be able to consider improvements in visual design to make your own projects more awesome.


Watch the video on visual design and take a full page of careful notes

Watch the video on visual analysis and take careful notes

Sketch your object, then complete a written visual analysis of your chosen object in your engineering notebook

Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your notes, sketch, and visual analysis

Principles of Design

Elements of Art

Principles of Art

Elements of Design

Part 2: Functional & Structural Analysis

Functional and Structural Analysis

Once we’ve determined why an object or project is visually successful, we then need to look at the function and structure of the object.  The function of the object refers to what it actually does, as well as what the internal parts do. In many cases, this refers to the working mechanisms inside the object.  The structure of the object refers to how it is built, how it is made durable and how it holds all the pieces in place.  In this part of the unit, we’ll look at both the function and structure of our objects and diagram their composition.


 Watch the videos on functional and structural analysis and take a full page of careful notes

Dismantle your object carefully, sketching at least 5 of the main parts as they are removed

Write out a complete functional analysis as well as a structural analysis in your engineering notebook

Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your notes, sketches, functional, and structural analyses



Reverse Engineering

Functional Analysis


Part 3: Product Improvement

Product Improvement Overview

After a visual, structural, and functional analysis has been conducted an engineer can start planning product improvements.  Maybe the engineer thinks that a different visual design would make the product more appealing. Maybe a different way of building would make it more durable. Or perhaps a different system or mechanism could make the object more efficient.  Your job in this part of the unit is to propose, describe, and draw/model your suggested improvement.


Brainstorm, design, and concept sketch an idea for an improvement to your chosen object

 Work out the details of your product improvement and create a model either through Multiview sketching, Autodesk, or prototyping in the makerspace.

Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your product improvement documentation and model.