As an engineer or innovator, you may often find yourself faced with complex problems that require a solution. In these situations, it can be tempting to rely solely on your own knowledge and experience to find a solution. However, have you ever considered the benefits of using problem-solving tools? Why do we need these tools, and what can we gain from incorporating creative thinking instruments into our problem-solving process? In this article, we’ll explore the importance of problem-solving tools and the advantages they offer for engineers and innovators.
Let’s start with a definition, and try to answer what is engineering thinking.
Many excellent descriptions of ENGINEERING are available. For instance, the University of Bath defines engineering as a discipline dedicated to problem-solving. Britannica suggests that engineering is related to an application of science, while Engineering and technology in society – Canada describes engineering as the creative application of science.
So, let’s break it down: engineering is essentially about using your creativity to solve problems while applying scientific principles. It’s a discipline that requires you to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to complex challenges. By combining your technical knowledge with creative thinking, you can design and build things that push the boundaries of what’s possible.
Cambridge dictionary provides an excellent and clear definition: “The activity of using your mind to consider something”
Now we can join both concepts and define the following:
Engineering Thinking is the intellectual activity of creatively solving problems using science
When it comes to engineering work, having scientific knowledge and intellect is important, but is that all we need to succeed? Is creative thinking or problem-solving tools necessary for a successful outcome? If so, what benefits can we derive from using these specific instruments?
Let’s try answering the question with some trivial examples.
Example I: How do we benefit from using a hammer? The hammer’s main advantage is its ability to increase the weight and hardness of our hands, allowing us to drive nails and break down walls with ease. By giving us this unique property, the hammer transforms us into superhuman beings capable of accomplishing feats that would have been impossible without it. Without the hammer, we would be left struggling to complete even the simplest of tasks, and our lives would be much more challenging.
Example II: How do we benefit from using a truck? One of the most significant advantages of trucks is the additional strength they provide us, for example, enabling us to move heavy objects to great distances with ease. A truck gives us additional strength and allows us to move heavy goods fast and far.
Example III: How do we benefit from using Excel? One of the primary reasons we need Excel is for the additional memory it provides us. With Excel, we can store and manage massive amounts of data that would be impossible to handle manually. Additionally, Excel’s powerful calculation capabilities enable us to perform complex computations quickly and accurately. These are tasks that we would struggle to perform efficiently without the help of Excel.
So, why do we need creative thing tools? What can they give us?
Creative tools give us additional Intellectual Capacity resulting in the unique ability to generate ideas, solve problems and innovate.
An attempt to generate new ideas and solve a problem without utilizing creative thinking tools is similar to trying to hammer a nail by hand.
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