This draft chapter documents the search for creative solutions to your needs & problem. Your chapter text should explain this process and show in words and images several viable candidate solutions. Define these in enough detail to permit evaluation, but don't go overboard on discreet design on alternatives that might be discarded: In other words, any analysis performed should be rudimentary only. Save the detail work for your chosen 'best candidate' solution.
Two main methods for expressing alternatives are prevalent:
Evaluation of Alternatives.
Most every design involves some sort of optimization process - sorting through a range of variables to arrive at the best collection. An evaluation process for selecting the best alternative should be included, demonstrating the process that your design team used for determining the best alternative that meets your specified needs.
One of the most common methodologies - explored thoroughly in the ENG310 Pre-requisite - is to rank the relative (numerical) anticipated performance of various alternatives versus applicable specifications, using a matrix-based analysis. Weighting factors can be applied where important, for instance in a situation where cost is twice as important as weight the cost values might carry a weighting factor of two. Alternatives would be ranked from top (#1) to bottom (#n) and the results summed to yield the 'best' alternative.
If the sub-functional alternative methodology is implemented it is important to not only select the 'best one' from each sub-functional category, but also to ensure that all sub-functions are compatible.
[For example, a system might require on-demand control of a force delivery system: The on-demand element could be a hydraulic or pneumatic valve, an electrical switch, or a manual trigger. The force delivery system alternatives might include a hydraulic piston/cylinder, an air cylinder, an electric solenoid, or a mechanical hammer. It would be important in this case to optimize the system by choosing compatible sub-components ... all-electric for instance.]
Your evaluation process should arrive at a conclusion: Clearly show all conceptual elements of your best alternative design.