Professional and Career Topics

  • 1.  How do you approach ill-structured problems?

    Posted 01-28-2022 11:37 AM
    How do you approach ill-structured problems and generate alternatives? The Tech Note in today's Source Analyzing problem-solving processes of students, faculty, and P.E.s makes for an interesting read and prompt to read the full technical paper. While one needs to be cautious about making generalizations, the paper suggests a huge opportunity for improvement. I'm hoping we can see some best practices identified in this forum.

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    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
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  • 2.  RE: How do you approach ill-structured problems?

    Posted 01-29-2022 09:45 AM
    That was very interesting. I would like to see two (2) additional groups added with the groups of practicing engineers ranging from years 1-5, 6-10, 10+.

    For the most part, I still use the same approach from my days in school. Statement/Definition of the Problem. Identify stakeholders. Gather available documentation. Gather all the applicable specifications, technical, and code requirements. Constraints. Site visit, if applicable. Digest it all. Identify what I am missing and define an approach. However, my toolbox of approaches and perspective was enhanced by working with someone with decades more experience than I had, R. Krumpen. You could ask him about anything associated with a ship or boat. He would stroke his beard for 5 - 10 seconds, look you in the eye, go to a file cabinet and then pull out a folder of hand calculations from 30+ years ago. R. Krumpen introduced me to a concept of elastic buckling based on load duration after I was adamant that a stanchion below a flight deck was an issue due to buckling. We never bothered him much. He stroked his beard for 10-15 seconds while he reviewed by calculations and then ...  .   He introduced a lot of us in the structures group to Blodgett. I wore the covers off my Blodgett and Roark & Young.
    I had the opportunity to work on RO/RO conversions exclusively with Mr. Krumpen over what may have been a summer. We checked structures and derived solutions based solely on ultimate strengths and thicknesses. At the shipyard, I worked with a lot of great engineers from different schools across the country. Being surrounded by so many engineers of varying age, experience, and education, you could not help but grow. Not to mention, the presentations in front of the technical folks from NAVSEA; the perspective of those with approval authority. Sorry for the length. Brings to memory some challenging but great times.

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    James Williams P.E., M.ASCE
    Principal/Owner
    POA&M Structural Engineering, PLC
    Yorktown, VA
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  • 3.  RE: How do you approach ill-structured problems?

    Posted 01-31-2022 11:24 AM
    Thanks for bringing this up, Mitch. It's an interesting and useful start on a significant issue.  In both teaching and practice, I found students and young engineers tend to take the problems statement (objective) as a given and leap directly to the solution phase, skipping proper problem formulation and information gathering. Most (all?) schools teach a structured approach but it's hard to turn learners into believers.
    The authors' point about professors needing practice experience is spot on. Professors working stints in industrial/consulting helps but doesn't fully address the need. A mix of dedicated academics and experienced practitioners is necessary to provide the required diversity of ideas. Sadly, most (all?) university administrators fail to recognize practice-oriented work as qualifying for teaching and promotion and rely on degrees and publications as indicators of quality.

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    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    ENGINEER
    Columbus MS
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  • 4.  RE: How do you approach ill-structured problems?

    Posted 02-05-2022 11:43 AM

     

    shifting gears... 

    ACI (American Concrete Institute) has very interesting system that engage teams to solve unimaginable solutions from the student perspective (EPD Competition). It is being ruled/run/governed by ACI Committee S802, which I also help them with to solve some conflicting requirements in 2012 of Shear  Vs Longitudinal Reinforcement considerations. I think ASCE has the bridge competition too!  

    Those activities "Competitive-Based Learning"  ... 

    ''Competition Based Learning" is essentially project-based learning, still involving teams of students in an open-ended assignment resembling a scaled down version of a problem they may encounter in their career; the added twist is accounting for the performance of the resulting specimen during final project testing with respect to other groups in the course. The hope is to generate motivation in the students to have the best overall project and eliminate the tendency of just doing enough to get by. This paper highlights the use of a project similar to the American Concrete Institute (ACI) Egg Protection Device (EPD) Competition in lieu of a traditional laboratory format in a Reinforced Concrete Design course. The project includes design, analysis, and laboratory components and eliminates the two primary downfalls of a traditional laboratory course by using teams of two students and minimizing the amount of information given on the front end. While some students do make solid efforts to learn on their own, there have been very few that have successfully mastered the complexity of that calculation, considering the number of unknowns and the support configurations of the EPD. Competition Based Learning- Dr. Chris Carroll, University of Louisiana. 

    Paper ID #6233 Competition Based Learning in the Classroom Dr. Chris Carroll, University of Louisiana, Lafayette Dr. Carroll is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His primary area of expertise is in reinforced and prestressed concrete. He also has an interest in engineering education at both the college and K-12 levels. Dr. Carroll serves as a voting member on ACI Committee S802 - Teaching Methods and Educational Materials and is a consulting member to the ASCE Pre-College Outreach Committee. He is also actively involved with engineering outreach at the K-12 level. c American Society for Engineering Education, 2013 Page 23.313.1

    Competition Based Learning in the Classroom Introduction Traditional engineering courses at most universities have been taught for decades with a 3-hour lecture format, usually meeting for either three 50-minute lectures, or two 75-minute lectures each week. In both formats, the course is generally taught with passive, abstract (theoretical), verbal, and sequential teaching styles, in other words, the instructor presents the material with little time for experimentation or reflection, generally spending a significant amount of class time discussing theory, using chalk or dry erase markers and other forms of verbal communication, in a very step-by-step progression, where preceding topics are built upon throughout the duration of the course. Engineering education researchers have shown these styles of teaching to contradict the learning styles of most engineering students, who are generally active, sensory, visual, and sequential learners [1]. As a result, the awareness in the engineering community has risen in recent years and a number of techniques have been introduced to help instructors tailor their courses to incorporate most, if not all learning styles of the students. Within the past decade, a push for learner-centered teaching environments [2] has become more and more prevalent throughout all of academia. Learner-centered teaching approaches encourage instructors to relent some control of their respective courses, allowing students the opportunity to be more interactive during class. It can be intimidating to both young and experienced instructors, who likely took those traditional engineering lecture-based courses during their education. In the modern classroom, instructors familiar with some of the newer techniques are now more likely to use a quick, in-class problem, or a three-dimensional figure, or a prop, spend less time on theoretical discussion and more time on application, and attempt to showcase the end goal prior to beginning the step-by-step process of presenting the material. In addition to the subtle changes an instructor can make in class, a number of other options exist taking the learner-centered teaching approach to another level. The most common methods are problem and project-based learning techniques. Both provide more open-ended types of experiences for students, but also require more upfront organization from the instructor. Problem-based learning exercises are generally open-ended, real-world problems worked out in teams where the instructor simply facilitates and monitors progress. Project-based learning exercises are similar, but usually include more than one task that leads to a final product, also worked out in teams [3]. In most cases project-based learning exercises are lengthier and are evaluated by some form of a final report. In the traditional civil engineering curriculum, undergraduate students take courses with both lecture and laboratory formats. While the lecture courses provide the opportunity for students to absorb new information, the purpose of a laboratory is to expose students to the physical problems associated with a course and reinforce course content. The traditional type of laboratory has well-planned experiments, typically containing step-by-step guides leading the students through each experiment. Generally in groups of four or five, students in-turn conduct the experiment, regurgitate the results, and prepare a laboratory report, arguably fulfilling ABET student outcome (b) an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as analyze and interpret data. It is possible, however, that these cookie cutter laboratory experiments, in fact, Page 23.313.2



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    Andre Newinski S.E., A.M.ASCE
    Engenheiro Estrutural
    AN
    Santo Angelo
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  • 5.  RE: How do you approach ill-structured problems?

    Posted 02-05-2022 11:44 AM
      |   view attached

    Creativity is the key Mitchell!!! 

    Using philosophy can give you direction in order to find the path to the best solution! 

    I think "thinking" is relevant, but also intuition will play a major role in reinvent the wheel! 

    SEI President Glenn Bell on the Vision for the Future of Structural Engineering

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    SEI President Glenn Bell on the Vision for the Future of Structural Engineering
    On October 22, SEI President Glenn Bell gave a seminar discussing his thoughts on the Future Vision for Structural Engineering and his focus for his presiden...
    View this on YouTube >



    Glenn Bell is about inspiration! please see it  (23 minutes). We need to act and stop to use building codes that are extensive in prescription, because if it is combined with A.I and Automation it can threat & compromise the SE Profession! So we need to think for Engineers to exist in the Future. Put the Human mind and value behind the machine. We do not must follow protocols, but this would be a new  enlightenment to a better future (use imagination)! 

    If you work with Structural Art you might consider to test every structure in a "real scale" before it's final existence and empirically adapt next models to best performance possible while it can certainly enable evolution of your work trigged by creativity and some potential ideas. Robert Maillart (16 February 1872 – 5 April 1940) was a Swiss civil engineer who revolutionized the use of structural reinforced concrete with such designs ... and a fair example of what I am saying (progressivism)!  There is Jörg Schlaich also in the area!

    Final Answer:

    *It would require to be less dependent of prescriptive materials in my view and try to incorporate some performance objectives, it's kind of doing and testing, experimental experiences - this is very enthusiastic mode while solving for the ill-structured problems that we have in the world today. All it requires is out-of-box thinking, and innovation some times but essentially human values and Art at the Core... 

    One of my favorites philosophies to approach problem solve is progressivism!  

    This video show how it apply in the early time students!    

    " Your ideas, Tested in the World! " 

    PROGRESSIVISM in Education - Philosophical Foundations of Education

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    PROGRESSIVISM in Education - Philosophical Foundations of Education
    For better understanding, turn ON subtitles. Please click the CC icon in the bottom right corner of your screen beside "Settings Icon" (for PC/Laptop) or go ...
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    I am a also a Visual Learner ...so it is expected to see some vibrant material in next post too!! :) 



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    Andre Newinski S.E., A.M.ASCE
    Engenheiro Estrutural
    AN
    Santo Angelo
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