Saturday, April 10, 2010

Rethinking Thinking

Engineering and engineers need to refocus their attention on the development of critical analytical thinking skills. In particular, those thinking skills that interface with a systems based approach to problem solving. Several thoughts - -

  • Engineering needs individuals who can take an unstructured problem, or a structured problem they can deconstruct, and look at it in a completely different way. Organizations want people who can x-ray through to a different problem while using the same material everyone else has seen.
  • We need people who can look at a problem and see it differently from others - - we need engineers that can break our current log jam of problems.
  • Critical thinking and analysis in the context of engineering has eight elements - - purpose, questions, point of view, information, assumptions, concepts, conclusions, and consequences.
  • Be more critical - - not a critic. Work out logic behind an argument and uncover assumptions.
  • Critical analysis and reading/writing skills are linked. Great writers are great readers. Great readers are great thinkers. Read everything you can get your hands on.
  • Learn to parse issues into smaller, more manageable chunks. Understand cause and effect. Understand that seeing the context of the effect helps to more deeply understand the cause. Recognize when it is appropriate to use simple theoretical constructs in complex contexts.
  • Zen Maxim - - Great doubt: great awakening. Little doubt: little awakening. No doubt: no awakening.

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