(What did you already know about critical thinking?)
When we were given the assignment, which meant to teach us how to develop critical thinking as engineers I was a bit confused of the term “critical thinking in engineering”.
After a few days extensive research reading various documents and publications I began to understand that banning of lead in solder was just a simple example to make us think about the sustainable development and as engineers we need to think when designing any product about the long term effect on the environment and the next generations to come.
On this particular assignment I strongly agreed with the EU RoHS Directive for banning the use of lead in solder. Growing back in the eighties I had a neighbor who worked in car battery production plant for over 10 years and his health was destroyed completely by the working environment in the factory. All the fumes and gasses he inhaled, mainly lead based damaged his internal organs and as far as I can remember he died of lead poisoning shortly after he was enable to go to work any more.
We learned in school the lead is poisonous but unless you see the effects it has on a human being you don’t realize how toxic and dangerous it is.
(Why is critical thinking important for an engineer?)
According to Facione, core critical thinking skills are interpretation, analysis, inference, explanation, evaluation, and self-regulation
Critical thinking is important. An engineer’s critical thinking skills — or lack thereof — is the single biggest factor in an engineer’s ability to form opinions, make decisions, and solve problems. I’m pretty sure it’s the single most important skill that an engineer can have.
But I’m willing to keep an open mind, if anyone can offer up a skill you believe is more important.
And it is a skill, too, not a natural ability. In fact, critical thinking is the exact opposite of what comes naturally. It is basically the ability to overcome our own human nature — our built-in sensory-perceptive shortcomings and hard-wired cognitive biases. That’s why it is important to educate our self’s and practice critical thinking every single day.
(What did I learn from this exercise about critical thinking?)
From this “Critical thinking” exercise I can take on board that no matter what is the issue, problem or a situation we have to rely on the facts when making decisions. In any case there won’t be a perfect solution but we have to try and get as close as we can to one. As engineers we have to overcome emotions and preferences in order to make the right call. Every side of the problem has to looked at, every possible decision has to be argued before is been put through. In this line of taught I must mention that engineers need to stick to the fundamentals taught in University such as:
– Apply logical principles and rigorous standards of facts and evidence
– Determine the significance of the problem
– Analyze and interpret the results of evaluation of the problem
As professionals I think we need to develop an engineering judgment to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.
(How will this learning guide me in the future? What specific things will I do and how will I act?)
For my future development as a professional engineer I would like to follow something very important that I learned from this exercise:
– Know the facts, analyze the facts and obey the facts.
It is simple as that. Been objective and been critical is crucial for an engineer. Following the Code of Ethics is another very important aspect of this exercise. Without Code of Ethics and been able think critically an engineer will be completely lost in the near future. All big companies in the world prefer engineers, which were already taught how to think critically and how to follow the Code of Ethics so if I want to work for Intel, Microsoft or Apple for example I will need to develop and improve my critical thinking abilities every single day.