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Design Science Journal
Papers

A Comparative Evaluation of Aptitude in Problem Solving in Engineering Education

A Comparative Evaluation of Aptitude in Problem Solving in Engineering Education

Year: 2010

Section: SYNERGIES BETWEEN PRODUCT AND ENGINEERING DESIGN

Editor: Boks W; Ion, W; McMahon, C and Parkinson B

Author: de Vere, Ian; Kuys, Blair; Melles, Gavin

Section: SYNERGIES BETWEEN PRODUCT AND ENGINEERING DESIGN

Pages: 292-298

Abstract

Engineering education has been criticised for focusing solely on the science of engineering, to the
detriment of preparing students for the practice of engineering. Graduates are considered by many in
industry to be ill-prepared for real world problem solving and to have limited experience in applying
their engineering knowledge to product outcomes. Instruction in design is uncommon, and where
existing, follows a linear and predictable process that does not afford students opportunity for
experimentation and exploration. However new engineering education pedagogy seeks to address
these issues through early integration of design and project based learning into the curricula.
This paper describes the initial findings of a comparative evaluation exercise conducted to measure
relative aptitude in problem solving by two disciplines of final year engineering students and thus
validate the impact of new engineering curricula. The evaluated students were from a typical
Mechanical Engineering course and from the less conventional Product Design Engineering program
which integrates industrial design studies into mechanical engineering curricula. Students’ problem
solving methods were observed, the design outcomes were evaluated and participants surveyed. These
exercises challenged the student’s problem framing and solving abilities and required the application
of engineering science and design acumen to achieve a creative solution for either an open-ended or
constrained problem. The early findings of this ongoing investigation are examined here, and the
benefits of developing a creative design focus within an engineering curriculum are clearly evident.

Keywords: Product design engineering, wicked problems, open-ended problems, engineering education

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ds conferenceE&PDE 2010: ENGINEERING AND PRODUCT DESIGN EDUCATION 2010

E&PDE 2010: ENGINEERING AND PRODUCT DESIGN EDUCATION 2010The 12th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education will take place 2-3 September 2010, and will be organised by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway in partnership with the Design Education Special Interest Group (DESIG) of the Design Society and the Institution of Engineering Designers (IED). The conference in 2010 will address the relationship between design education and design research. This year's conference theme, "When...

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