Sunday, October 4, 2009

Engineering is based on accuracy and rigorousness

This week’s papers give me the feeling that the authors emphasized more on the uncertainty and ambiguity of engineering, rather than our usual sense of accuracy and rigorousness. However, our group agreed at the end of the discussion that accuracy and rigorousness are actually addressed in the papers and still are the base of engineering.

Jonassen et al. mainly talked about the differences of workplace engineering problems and in-class engineering problems. These differences are present in the structure, goal, standard, solving ways, team members of engineering problems. However, the differences do not present in theory base of design or the details of problem solving. Also, the accuracy and rigorousness can be seen from the argument. Theme 2 involves ill-structured problems including aggregates of well-structured problems.

Koen talked about the characteristics of an engineering problem: change, resources, best, and uncertainty. He also mentioned that uncertainty can be seen in the former three characteristics. However, for example, the curves in the “Sharpness vs. knob setting” and “Fidelity vs. knob setting” are not randomly drawn by an engineer. They are summarized using statistic methods. So, although making a decision in engineering designing is based on a lot of other criterion, evidence and theory base of engineering designing are accurate and rigorous.

Bucciarelli argued that engineers need to select from different theoretical framework to design or solve problems. However, these theoretical frameworks are well-defined. No one wants to drive a car that is designed not based on any theories or experimental data.