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Problem Solving Skills – The Essence of an Engineer

A Problem can be defined as an apparent gap between the existing state and the desired state of affairs, or simply a deviation from a norm, standard, or status quo. During Professional life, we face a lot of problems related to Products and services. This is where the problem-solving skill becomes essential. Through a detailed comprehensive approach, one can effectively adopt vital problem-solving skills.

Problem Solving: Challenges

An example of problem-solving in products and services may be telecommunication and banking services. In both cases Manufacture/Service Provider always find it challenging to:

  • Enhance the dimensions of quality of their products/services
  • Reduce the cost of the products/services
  • Enhance customer satisfaction by reducing the manufacturing lead time.

To excel in the business as a Manufacturer or a Service provider an engineer must have a thorough understanding and application of Problem-solving skills.

Problem Solving Categories

The discussion on Problem solving skills is so significant that as per Albert Einstein “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” Two General Categories of Problem Solving include

  • Analytical Problem Solving
  • Creative Problem Solving

 Problem Solving Steps and Methods

The comprehensive steps and methods that one should adopt while solving any problem include:

  • Defining the Problem
  • Generating Alternatives 
  • Choosing the best alternative
  • Applying the best alternative
  • Accepting Feedback

Also Read :- 5 Life Lessons You Should Learn Before Graduating

Teaching Problem Solving Skills to students

A teacher plays a very important role in building problem solving skills among the students. Some points that can be kept in mind while instilling problem solving techniques among the students are:

  • Provide hints so that students can find a solution to a problem
  • Give a valid framework for them to work upon
  • Give variety of problems for them to work upon
  • Let them practice regularly
  • Take it step-by-step, go from an easy to moderate, and then a difficult problem to solve
  • Ask them to chart out their strategy while solving a problem
  • Ask them to come up with innovative problem solving techniques
  • Provide a constructive feedback

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Problem Solving Examples for Students

Some of the leading examples for the students to apply their problem solving skills and techniques are: highlighting a specific skill set in the resume, explaining a certain topic in the form of a classroom presentation, managing the timetable to accommodate the studies and extracurricular alike. These are some of the many examples where a student would need to imply the problem solving skills and methods to derive an apt solution. 

The various tools and techniques for Problem-solving are available for every step of problem-solving. Some of the problem-solving tools include cause and effects diagram, Pareto analysis, hypothesis testing, statistical process control, why-why analysis, force-field analysis, decision science, etc. There is a long list of problem-solving tools and techniques. A professional must understand problem-solving skills including tools and techniques to grow their business exponentially. It is interesting to note that Problem-solving skills are equally applicable to real-life problems and situations.

Written By:- Dr. Virender Narula, Professor-Mechanical Engineering, FET-MRIIRS

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