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Characterization of Techniques used in Industry: The Practice of Complex Problem Solving in Engineering

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Aspects of Engineering Literacy and Community and Industry Engagement

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

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Paper Authors


Lina Trigg William Mason High School Orcid 16x16

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I am due to graduate high school in 2017 and have experience in business and engineering environment in the private sector with a Fortune 500 company.

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Heidi A. Diefes-Dux Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) Orcid 16x16

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Heidi A. Diefes-Dux is a Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Food Science from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in Food Process Engineering from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. She is a member of Purdue’s Teaching Academy. Since 1999, she has been a faculty member within the First-Year Engineering Program, teaching and guiding the design of one of the required first-year engineering courses that engages students in open-ended problem solving and design. Her research focuses on the development, implementation, and assessment of modeling and design activities with authentic engineering contexts.

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There is a gap between academia and industry in terms of how students are taught to solve complex problems and how professionals solve complex problems in industry. This paper will begin to explore the tools and techniques professional engineers use in their work. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with professionals employed in engineering roles. The interview protocol asked the engineers to identify tools and techniques they use for complex problem solving. A preliminary analysis of five participants’ interviews revealed four tool or techniques used in complex problem solving in industrial settings: lean and/or Six Sigma, risk management, data management, and communication across teams. Ultimately, we envision the results of this work will lead to recommendations for curricular interventions and reform in STEM education to bridge the academic-industry divide.  

Trigg, L., & Diefes-Dux, H. A. (2017, June), Characterization of Techniques used in Industry: The Practice of Complex Problem Solving in Engineering Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28025

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