Teaching Creative Problem-Solving Skills in Engineering Design


  • J.G. Mackenzie University of Canterbury
  • R.M. Allen Murdoch University
  • W.B. Earl University of Canterbury
  • I.A. Gilmour University of Canterbury


A problem-solving approach has been adopted for teaching engineering design to third-year chemical engineering students at the University of Canterbury.  Following the lecture course on problem-solving techniques, students were grouped in pairs to discuss a set of problems, and into different pairs for each of six assigned computer modules from the interactive computer instruction package "Strategies for Creative Problem Solving."  Performance for each module was computer evaluated and contributed toward students' assessment as part of their course work.  Problem-solving strategies were integrated into a subsequent engineering design project, in this case with students working in groups of three.

Author Biographies

J.G. Mackenzie, University of Canterbury

Judith Mackenzie is Senior Tutor in the School of Engineering, University of Canterbury. She has a Master's degree in Education and has recently completed a PhD in Chemical and Process Engineering. Her teaching and research focuses on the application of computers as a tool for innovative teaching in chemical engineering education.

R.M. Allen, Murdoch University

Maurice Allen is Associate Professor in the Department of Instrumentation and Control Engineering at Murdoch University. His teaching and research centers on process control, the modeling and simulation of industrial processes, and the application of computing to process engineering and teaching.

W.B. Earl, University of Canterbury

Brian Earl is Associate Professor of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Canterbury. His teaching interests are in process design, corrosion, and electrochemical engineering, and his research interests are in expert systems in process design, chemical engineering education, corrosion, and alternative transport fuels. Dr. Earl is currently on leave at Cornell University

I.A. Gilmour, University of Canterbury

Ian Gilmour is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Canterbury. His teaching interests are the design of process equipment, heat exchangers, combustion of fuels and energy, and material balances for chemical processes. His research interests are the efficient uses of fuels and energy in the process industry, extraction of nutraceuticals from agricultural and forest residuals, and computer modeling for the pulp and paper industry.