Practical Problem-Solving Skills for Engineers

In this episode, I talk to Andrew Sario, an intelligent transport systems engineer and OT cyber specialist, creator of Engineering IRL, and engineering book author, about problem-solving skills for engineers. Andrew provides some great tips that will help you to master these skills and become the best engineer you could be. Be sure to listen to the end of this episode for a special offer from guest Andrew Sario.

Engineering Quotes:



Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Practical Problem-Solving Skills for Engineers:

  • When working on many different projects, work on each one cyclically. It will make it easier to transition from one to the other and know what you need to do next. Breaking up each project into smaller chunks helps you not feel overwhelmed by the entire project.
  • The book, “10+1 Steps to Problem Solving: An Engineer’s Guide,” is born from Andrew’s practical experiences. If you encounter similar problems repetitively, you begin to learn how to solve them quicker and easier. Many problems are solved by taking the same steps as used with other problems. Use this book in conjunction with the problem-solving techniques that you already have. It is a tool to help you think about the problem you have and solve it.
  • Engineering problem-solving consists of breaking down big problems into smaller, solvable, individual parts and then putting them back together to solve the bigger problem. Many engineering problems are bigger than what one person can solve. Using a team to solve this problem is beneficial. Engineers capture the best practices over time to solve problems more safely and efficiently than before.
  • If a problem has a known solution, then use it. Sometimes you need to use tools that give you a different perspective of the problem to solve the problem.
  • The two key things you need to do consistently to improve your reputation and recognition in your workspace are:
    1. Whatever tasks are given to you, no matter how small or trivial, do them well.
    2. Look for solutions to the problems that are standing in the way of your team moving forward. It will give people the mentality to see you as a problem-solver. When doing this, remember to keep step 1 in context.
  • To get better at solving problems, you need to practice solving problems. Be happy if you fail in solving some of the problems you face. It adds to your practicing, and you learn what not to do next time.
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The 10+1 Steps to Problem-Solving for Engineers Are:

  1. Are you asking the correct question? – Make sure you are asking the correct question from the beginning of your problem-solving techniques.
  2. The obvious. – Try the known solutions. If they do not work the first time, try them again, and they might work.
  3. Eyes. – Ensure you have all the correct tools in place to give you clues about the problem.
  4. Check yourself. – Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Make sure that all the basics are in place before getting too technical about solving the problem.
  5. Google it. – You do not have to know everything already, so Google for solutions to your problem. If you have a specific problem, there are online forums that you can consult about it.
  6. The R.T.F.M. protocol. – Read the manual. You could be surprised by the information you find in it.
  7. Strip. – Strip down the complexities of the problem and look for something basic to solve first. Prove you know something about the problem.
  8. What about the environment? – Look for things outside of your problem that could be influencing or impacting it.
  9. Phone a friend. – Ask someone who might know of a solution.
  10. Pray – Talk about your problem aloud to yourself. Find an inanimate object and tell it the problem you have and what is needed to solve it. It can get your subconscious working and help you get clarity on what is needed to solve it.
  11. You can find this step in the book10+1 Steps to Problem Solving: An Engineer’s Guide.”
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More in This Episode…

In the Take Action Today segment of the show, Andrew talks about one tip for engineers to be better at problem-solving.

About Andrew Sario

Engineering IRLAndrew Sario is a professional systems engineer and the founder of Engineering IRL, which helps engineers build a successful engineering life. As an author, he has written kids’ engineering books and wrote the bestselling book, “10+1 Steps to Problem Solving: An Engineer’s Guide.” He is also the director of Cloudmate Networks, an Australian cloud networks retailer providing small businesses access to the cloud via Cisco Meraki Technology. Andrew Sario is a husband and father dedicated to his family and is passionate about his children’s education, happiness, and success.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
~ Albert Einstein

Books Mentioned in This Episode:

10+1 Steps to Problem Solving: An Engineer’s Guide

101 steps

Resources and Links Mentioned in This Session Include:

Engineering in Real Life
Cloudmate Networks
Cisco Meraki Technology
Connect with Andrew Sario on LinkedIn
Send Andrew Sario an email

We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you can share on practical problem-solving skills for engineers.

Please leave your comments, feedback, or questions in the section below.

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To your success,

Jeff Perry, MBA
Host of The Engineering Career Coach Podcast

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