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Problem Solving Is Necessary, But Not Sufficient

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.329.1 - 2.329.6



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W. Ernst Eder

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

Session 2330


W. Ernst Eder Royal Military College of Canada


Some curriculum changes introduced in the 1960's were counter-productive. Too much emphasis was placed on engineering science, and not enough on aspects of engineering. The reduction of engineering drawing, manufacturing methods and similar topics has made matters worse.

Redress was initiated by introducing methods of problem solving at some institutions. Procedural knowledge, especially for open-ended problems, is a necessary addition to knowledge about objects and their related phenomena.

Engineering is not "applied science," it has other tasks and responsibilities, including societal, economic, law-related, innovative, management and coordinating functions. A task for engineers is to provide the basis for making useful products -- summarized as designing. Problem solving alone is not enough. Designing has its own procedures, of which problem solving is a sub-set. Designing is not fully predictable. Nevertheless, procedures and methods for designing can be proposed, and related to ways of modeling systems. The needs to learn such design procedures in a more formalized way have been discussed, especially to enhance creativity.


For several years it has been recognized that the curriculum changes introduced in the 1960's, as a result of the Grinter Report 1, were in some ways counter-productive. Quoting from Grinter (Appendix): "The Committee considers that scientifically oriented engineering curricula are essential to achieve these ends and recommends the following means of implementation." This major report then recommended ten "means of implementation" (something helpful in achieving a desired end, Merriam-Webster Dictionary) of which the third is interesting in the context of this paper, it reads:

"3. An integrated study of engineering analysis, design, and engineering systems for professional background, planned and carried out to stimulate creative and imagina- tive thinking, and making full use of the basic and engineering sciences." 1

The Grinter report was written before any serious start had been made on studying procedures, systematic methods and methodologies, modeling tools and theories of designing -- a verb describing the necessary and possible activities and processes. Such studies are continuing from about 1955 in Europe. They started at about the same time in the USA, but were neglected

Eder, W. E. (1997, June), Problem Solving Is Necessary, But Not Sufficient Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6739

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