on December 10th, 2013

Dear Colleagues,

As engineering professionals; we are taught to calculate either on the back of a cigarette box (the old approach); using a calculator or some exotic software program.

Seemingly we spend most of our lives in strongly numerical activities calculating…calculating. No matter whether you are a mechanical fitter doing an estimation of material costs or a rocket scientist working out payloads for the next missile. We are all feverishly involved with and expected to calculate.

We are assessed on a daily basis on our ability to come up with outstanding accuracy in our calculations with lots of thought devoted to the possible errors.

But this is Emphatically not the ‘Be All and end all’ of Engineering
But this is not the key role for engineering professionals.

The key is in problem solving – in coming up with a solution to a seemingly intractable problem. This is where you employ your engineering skills to the utmost.

Don’t let a Problem Overwhelm you
Always look for the familiar components of the problem which can be worked through using past experience which provides demonstrable results. And then examine the more complex unknown parts.

Bear in mind two other issues of problems:

  • Ultimately Every Problem is Unique
  • And Inside Every Problem is a small one desperate to emerge

Henry Ford remarked - There are no big problems, there are just a lot of little problems.

Ideas for this blog came from a great eminently readable book: 101 Things I learned in Engineering School by John Kuprenas and Matthew Frederick.

Yours in engineering learning,


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