Defining the Problem CIVE 4312 Hanadi Rifai
A problem statement should focus on the • function(s) to be performed by any • viable solution. • Example: Designing a better ink pen • Need fast-drying ink • Need uniform flow • Solution: ball-point ink pens!
Formulating the Real Problem • Engineering is an iterative process, reconsider: • Assumptions • Decisions • Conclusions • Initial problem statement may be vague, ill-conceived or incorrect • Incorrect problem statement unlikely to lead to optimal solution
Methods for Problem Forumulation • Statement-Restatement Technique • Source and Cause – Why-Why Diagrams • Revision Method • Present State and Desired State – Dunker Diagrams • What is wrong with it? • Benchmarking and Best Practices • Fresh Eye Approach
Statement-Restatement Technique • Determine the “real” problem • Determine the actual constraints • Identify meaningful goals • Identify inputs, outputs, unknowns
Determining “Real” problem • Varying the emphasis on words in problem statement • Substituting explicit definitions of terms • Changing positive terms to negatives • Replacing persuasive and/or implied words with reasoning behind them
Determining Constraints • Relax constraints • Quantitative not qualitative • Eliminate perceived or imagined boundaries
Identifying Meaningful Goals • Qualitative • Prioritized • Focus on most critical ones
Identifying Input, Output, Unknowns • What is desired output or benefit? • What are inputs? people, equipment, money • What is unknown?