Hardware Engineering Terms: Part 1


Hardware engineering is a complex process that requires the production of a precise and reliable finished product. Thus, an understanding of key concepts is essential.

There are various metrics and process controls used to verify the outcome of any hardware engineering project. For a brief introduction into the subject, here are some of the most common terms relating to process control for hardware engineering projects.

CAD, CAE, MCAD (variants on Computer-Aided Design): In mechanical, structural, and electrical engineering contexts, CAD is a computer-assisted drafting environment that uses shape-based parameters to create functional and realistic models of design. The models can be used for simulations and provide useful outputs to facilitate an object’s actual construction. (More from Inc.)

LabVIEW: A graphical program sold by National Instruments to facilitate hardware communications and data acquisition in engineering and scientific projects. (More from LabVIEW)

Design Control: A formal methodology for product development. In certain regulated industries, a formally written design methodology is required. Elements of design control include development planning, design verification/validation, and thorough documentation of the design process & results. (More from Wikipedia)

Hardware engineering stages: EV (Engineering Verification), DV (Design Verification), and PV (Process Verification): A verification processes that occur during the hardware product development process. (A must read Hardware Dev explanation from Concept Spring)

V&V (Verification and Validation): A process that first proves a system meets specified standards at specific points in development by testing, calculations, and/or simulations and then ensures that the final system or product meets shareholders’ initial expectations upon completion. It also has a special meaning in the testing phase where calculations are used to “verify” that the design would work in the worst case, but then a lab measurement is made to “validate” that your equations are correct, thus serving the purpose of proving your design. (More from Plutora)

Testing: Manufacturing and software testing allows engineers to see if programs are meeting specific goals or are suffering from glitches or errors. Popular tests include UI/UX, reliability, post-install, compliance, weatherproofing exercises, and safety tests. (More from Wikipedia)

Accuracy vs. Precision: Two quality assurance criteria. Accuracy refers to how close a measurement is to the true value. Precision is how consistent results are when measurements are repeated. (More from Thought Co)

Gage R&R (Repeatability and Reproducibility): A statistical tool that reveals the variability between measurements due to nuances of the device and the people operating it. (More from iSixSigma)

Tolerance and Stackup: Tolerance refers to the allowable variations in a measured value of a product such as dimensions, the distance between components, the hardness of materials, humidity, and many more. Tolerance stack up is the total amount of variation allowed in all parts of the object combined. Tolerance stack up is important for setting limits on variability to reduce the chance of object or system failure. (More from Wikipedia)

Compliance: When a product is in compliance, it meets the regulations or standards of a regulatory or standards body. This principle is commonly used in medical, energy, communications, manufacturing, and industry-related work, where compliance helps ensure safety, security, and quality. (More from In Compliance)

Engineering Change Order (ECO): Documents used to express modifications of a product configuration or document. It establishes who would be impacted by the change and also seeks approval from this group. (More from Arena Solutions)


Ben Spencer

Content Strategist

Ben has a passion for blending design and writing into a cohesive product narrative. An advocate for research, strategy, and discovery at the front end of any project, Ben excels in high-level thinking about how to most effectively tell a brand’s story in an authentic and relevant way.

Ben received Bachelor’s degrees in Film Studies and Religion from Whitman College, as well as a Master’s in Education from Lipscomb University. He studied UX Design and Content Strategy at General Assembly before joining Fresh’s team in January 2016.

Outside of work, Ben enjoys reading voraciously, watching horror movies, playing video games, and building his skill as an aspiring novelist. He spends every second he can with his wife and his two beloved Boxer dogs, California and Tennessee.