It is well accepted that many mechanical engineering (ME) design processes are complex. We believe that many ME design approaches include unnecessary complexity, intended to assist the teaching of engineering knowledge. This technical complexity has contributed to many critical issues in ME education, including decreased enrolments in many countries; diminished pre-existing skills amongst University entrants and increasing numbers of students abandoning courses. This has resulted in fewer fully competent graduate engineers, amongst whom a reduced understanding of essential knowledge leads to a consequent reduction in their capability. Unnecessarily complicated theoretical knowledge is taught to students of mechanical engineering design. Empirical evidence is provided to demonstrate this, along with the difficulty experienced by students when they attempt to apply their theoretical knowledge to gear design exercises. A proposed remedy for this issue has been thoroughly evaluated for the ME design and machine design project courses taught in Turkey. The findings indicate that most of the students cannot cope with excessively complex design approaches, and are reluctant to use them. This paper proposes an alternative solution, a generic method for the reductive, simplified problem-solving of typical design problems, without materially sacrificing accuracy. The basic implementation of the method is provided as a road map to show its application. If academics continue the efforts to extend the implementation of the method, in particular for machine components, this would reduce the issue of reduced numbers of capable graduate engineers. The method can also improve the self-confidence of students, as opposed to limiting their professional capacity.