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Engineering Problem-Solving 101


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Table of Contents

Ch 1. Engineers as Problem Solvers
Ch 2. Problem Solving Skills vs. Process vs. Techniques
Part I - Mathematical Approaches to Problem-Solving
Ch 3. Using Equations("Plug and Chug")
Ch 4. Approximating and Estimating
Ch 5. Interpolating and Extrapolating
Ch 6. Checking
Ch 7. Dimensional Analysis and Reconciling Units
Ch 8. Using Similarity and Ratios
Ch 9. Using Indexes or Indices
Ch 10. Scaling
Ch 11. Sensitivity Analysis (of Parameters)
Ch 12. Response Curves and Surfaces
Ch 13. Numerical Analysis & Methods
Ch 14. Dimensionless Quantities or Parameters
Ch 15. Assumptions, Constraints, Conditions, and Cases

Part II - Physical/Mechanical Approaches to Problem-Solving
Ch 16. Reverse Engineering
Ch 17. Material Property Correlations
Ch 18. Proof of Concept Models
Ch 19. Experimental Models and Model Experiments
Ch 20. Test Models and Model Testing
Ch 21. Mockups and Masters
Ch 22. Prototypes and Rapid Prototyping
Ch 23. Trial and Error

Part III - Visual, Graphic, or Iconic Approaches to Problem-Solving
Ch 24. Sketching and Rendering
Ch 25. Tracings and Transfers, Lofting and Lines-taking
Ch 26. Graphing and Graphical Methods
Ch 27. Layouts
Ch 28. Flow Diagrams or Flowcharts
Ch 29. Causal Diagrams (Fishbone or Ishikawa Diagrams)
Ch 30. Decision Trees

Part IV - Conceptual or Abstract Approaches to Problem-Solving
Ch 31. Brainstorming Process, Methodology and Techniques
Ch 32. Using Analogs
Ch 33. Dissecting Problems: Decoupling and Coupling, Zooming In and Zooming Out
Ch 34. Working Problems Backwards and Inverse Problems
Ch 35.FunctionalAnalysis&Black Boxes
Ch 36. Morphological Analysis and Morphological Charts
Ch 37. Storyboarding
Ch 38. Iteration and Iterative Design Process

About the Author

Robert (Bob) W. Messler is Professor of Engineering at the Materials Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. He spent 16 years in industry, 11 years at Grumman Aerospace, and 5 years at Eutectic-Castolin. Dr. Messler then returned to Rensselaer, where he earned his degrees, to serve as Technical Director and Associate Director of the Center for Manufacturing Productivity. He later became tenured as Professor and was appointed as Associate Dean for Academic & Student Affairs. Dr. Messler has authored 5 technical books.

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