M.Sc Thesis


M.Sc StudentElena Trotskovsky
SubjectEngineering Thinking according to Experts and Students:
Theory, Implementation and Pedagogy
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisors Full Professors Waks Shlomo
Full Professors Hazzan Orit
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

This thesis is about characterization of engineering thinking and its development in the course of engineering design project by engineering students. Most fresh graduates are involved in engineering design which necessitates engineering thinking. The study focuses on the engineering thinking characterization in general, and more specifically, directed towards electrical and electronic engineering, from experienced tenured engineers view point.  The study also covers cognitive activities of undergraduate students while performing their first engineering design project in industry.

We stressed on two following questions:

  • What are the main characteristics of engineering thinking in conjunction with engineering design, according to experienced engineers in industry and experienced lecturers in the academia?
  • What are the main characteristics of engineering thinking that are expressed by the students during their final projects?  What is their involvement in the process of the project work?

The study database consists of multiple populations: experienced lecturers from the academia in the fields of electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, software engineering and computer sciences; expert engineers from industry; and electronic engineering students in the course of their final project in industry. Qualitative research methodology was applied, with bases on interviews analyses, monthly reports and project books.

We have identified characteristics of engineering thinking in electronic engineering design process, and carried out categorization and comparison with thinking processes in an exact science disciplines.  The findings show that analysis, synthesis and decision making are not the sole milestones in engineering development; they also integrate interleaved cognitive processes.  The findings demonstrate that an industrial environment that became a study environment, forces the learner to find practical solutions while developing systems thinking and problem solutions in reverse order End - backward. It also requires the ability to generate alternative suggestions for solution of problems, their analysis and making engineering decisions, in addition to reflective thinking. Integrative thinking has been identified as one of the characteristics of modern electronic design. Creative and algorithmic routine thinking have also been emerged in this type of thinking.

This study aims at contributing to the accumulated knowledge of engineering thinking and to the curriculum development of academic engineering education.