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62 PCB007 MAGAZINE I JANUARY 2023 was met with failure. Again and again. It was frustrating. I had spent the past 15 years solving problems with one right answer. I never really had to learn how to problem-solve like an engi- neer. Unfortunately, I believe many other stu- dents are in the same boat—they haven't had to flex those mental muscles or solve problems that last beyond a class period. Where do those students go from here? I would argue that these skills can be built by engaging in extra-curriculars or joining clubs. My college had a "Concrete Canoe" club, in which students were tasked with building a canoe out of concrete that could both float in water and hold two people in a paddling race. Other clubs had students use 3D print- ers to create chess boards and matching pieces. ese students had to visualize how each piece would be created in a CAM program, and they had to verify that all the parts would fit together properly. Personally, I took pottery classes and learned basic woodworking. Such hobbies allow us to grow our skills and thought processes outside of the classroom; they aid in solving "muscle;" anymore. It is in a child's nature, on the other hand, to constantly assess and test boundaries, whether they are learn- ing to walk and talk, or are making friends at school. Adults, especially new college gradu- ates, are conditioned through years of school- ing that there is typically one "right" answer to a given question. What is 8 + 8? e answer will always be 16. What is the powerhouse of the cell? It's the mitochondria, of course. Aer 12 years of schooling (or more), rote learn- ing effectively forces our problem-solving into hibernation deep in our brains. I always hear from new engineering grad- uates that the workforce is not what they expected it to be; graduates oen express how unprepared they felt at their first internship. Is it because the engineering skills they learned in school failed them, or is it because they fail to see those skills as one of many tools in their skills toolbox? I'll admit that my first intern- ships—and my first few months at my first full- time job—stretched my problem-solving skills as well. Instead of a calculus problem with one right answer that I could solve in 20 minutes, I was faced with problems that did not have a solution manual. I had to think about these problems for days or even weeks to come up with a solution; even then, that sense of imme- diate success, so familiar to me from my expe- riences in academia, was missing. I had to learn that my education was just another tool in a larger toolbox of problem-solving skills—ones that I needed to learn about and develop over time. If a college education is a single "tool," what other tools exist? DOEs, the five whys tech- nique, the problem-definition process, and design sprints are just some of the tools I had to add to my repertoire. Just like a hammer can- not screw in a screw, statistics will not solve every workplace problem. I had to go beyond my education and the quick problem-solving skills I'd relied on in calculus and basic chem- istry. Naturally, this learning process was full of growing pains. Each time I tried a new skill, I Woodworking example.

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