Document Type


Publication Date

January 2004


Problem-solving skills have always been important in many professions. However, ABET EC 2000 recently placed a new focus on these skills in engineering education with outcome 3e, which states that engineering graduates must have an ability to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems. Problem-solving is defined as a process used to obtain a best answer to an unknown or a decision that is subject to some constraints. Problem-solving is not the same as textbook exercise solving, which is very common in engineering curricula. In the article, the authors first define engineering problem-solving and, in particular, what it means to identify and formulate a problem. This definition will set the stage for identifying the skills that students need to acquire and the attributes they must possess in order to be classified as competent problem solvers. Next, the authors introduce sample problems that help students to master these skills. Finally, the data gathered regarding student performance in these types of problems is presented and analysed.