June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
Engineering educators have become increasingly attentive to the role of engineering education in meeting the ostensible ‘needs’ of the professional engineering workforce. In order to prepare students for professional engineering work, colleges of engineering have incorporated various courses into the undergraduate engineering curriculum, including capstone courses, project courses, and problem based learning. However, much of the typical engineering curriculum remains spent in disciplinary courses that emphasize textbook problem solving, despite the fact that ‘technical’ engineering problems are only one of several types of problem that engineers encounter in professional work settings.
While research on the school-to-work transition of early career engineers frequently focuses on the changes in identity that accompany this transition (e.g. Korte & Lin 2013), less attention has been paid to what new engineers do at work and how they learn to do it (Trevelyan & Till 2007; Stevens, Johri & O’Connor 2013). Using problem solving as a focal phenomenon, in this paper we demonstrate the range of problems that 20 early career engineers describe encountering or were observed to encounter. These engineers were educated at a variety of institutions, come from various disciplinary backgrounds in engineering, and work in a range of industries and work settings. We draw on ethnographic observations, field interviews and background interviews to show the types of problems early career engineers encounter, their roles in solving those problems, and the resources they draw on to solve these problems. Our analysis strengthens an empirical understanding of the types of problem solving early career engineers are likely to do. Our findings can therefore be used to inform the development of problem based learning and project/capstone courses in undergraduate engineering programs.
Vinson, A., & Davis, P., & Stevens, R. (2017, June), Problem Solving in Engineering Education and Professional Engineering Work Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28756
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