Problems to be solved during one’s career, whether in industry or as a student, will vary in complexity and magnitude, but , the basic principles to be followed remain the same.
The steps to be followed at are:
1. Carefully define the problem.
2. Present everything you know about the problem.
3. Establish a set of alternative solutions and determine the one that
promises the greatest likelihood of success.
4. Attempt a problem solution.
5. Evaluate the solution and check for accuracy.
6. Has the problem been solved satisfactorily? If so, present the solution; if not, then return to step 3 and continue through the process again.
Now, lets try to elaborate on each.
- Carefully define the problem.
This is the foundation for all the rest of the steps. You must make sure you understand the problem as thoroughly. Time spent at this point clearly identifying the problem will save you considerable time and frustration later.
You can clarify a problem statement in a textbook by consulting several individuals, like your professor, or colleague at work. At this step, it is important to develop questions that need to be addressed, before continuing the solution process.
- Present everything you know about the problem. You are now ready to write down everything you know about the problem and its possible solutions. Write down any assumptions you will be making, if any.
- Establish a set of alternative solutions, and determine the one that promises the greatest likelihood of success. Almost every problem will have a number of possible paths that can lead to a solution. It is highly desirable to identify as many of those paths as possible. At this point, you also need to determine what tools are available to you. Document this process well since you will want to come back to it if the first approach does not work.
- Attempt a problem solution. Begin solving the problem. The process you follow must be well documented, in order to present a detailed solution if successful, and to evaluate the process, if you are not successful.
- Evaluate the solution and check for accuracy. Evaluate what has been accomplished. Decide if the solution is acceptable, one that you want to present to your team or professor. This detailed evaluation may lead to corrections that can then lead to a successful solution.
- Analyse the solution. Has the problem been solved satisfactorily? If so, present the solution; if not, then return to step 3, and continue through the process again. Now you need to present your solution or try another alternative.
The basic process is applicable to almost every engineering course. The process as stated always needs to be followed for a successful problem solving.