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Enhancing Students' Problem Solving Techniques Through A Special Project Course

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Student Learning and Research

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.516.1 - 8.516.4



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Paper Authors

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Mohamad Ahmadian

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2150

Enhancing Students’ Problem-Solving Techniques Through a Special Project Course

Mohamad H. Ahmadian Eastern New Mexico University


The EET program at Eastern New Mexico University is a four-year program serving students coming from regional high schools, two-year community colleges, and two-year technical schools. The course Special Project is a senior level capstone course. Students are required to do two projects. In each project a marketable prototype of the design must be produced. Students enhance their knowledge of issues involved in the production of a design such as time estimation, components availability, the design difficulty, and the problem solving skills.


Throughout their undergraduate curriculum, engineering technology students will plan, develop, and present semester-long projects in their field of engineering technology. Working on these projects, students gain knowledge and skills in project handling, technical writing, problem- solving skills, evaluation process, and oral presentation techniques. Many times the projects are not completed on time because of lack of estimating the difficulty of the design, or the time interval required to gather components and assemble the given design. Most problem solvers skip the step of estimating the difficulty of the problem that they are trying to solve, or if they do estimate it, they take that estimate lightly. The Estimate Approach 1 claims that by investing in developing a good estimate of the effort to solve the problem, the overall solution effort will be reduced and perhaps minimized.

In the book “Design Tools for Engineering Teams” 1, the following is given for problem-solving steps: A team must share a common thought process for effectively finding solutions to problems. While there are many methods for solving problems, they all share four key principles:

1. The problem must be clearly defined, so people know what problem is being solved and what the successful solution of the problem will look like. 2. Merely “solving” symptoms must be avoided; everyone must focus on identifying and eliminating the underlying causes of the problems. 3. The chosen solutions must eliminate the problem and not cause additional problems in the future or in other places in the organization. 4. Once fixed, problems must stay fixed. The organization must track and measure solutions to problems. Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Ahmadian, M. (2003, June), Enhancing Students' Problem Solving Techniques Through A Special Project Course Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11440

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