Tom Lombardo, Ed.D.
Professor of Engineering
Note: This article first appeared in the March-April 2012 issue of the ATLE Newsletter.
A few weeks ago a colleague told me of his frustration with students who mindlessly plug numbers into an equation and then are surprised to discover that their answers are incorrect. “But I used a formula,” they would insist. His response: “Plugging numbers into a formula is the easy part. The challenge is knowing which formula to use for a given situation.” I find myself having similar conversations with my programming students. Some will reach into a bag of programming concepts, grab a handful of instructions at random, and throw them at the computer. I refer to this as the Jackson Pollock Design Method (JPDM). I’ll leave it to the art faculty to debate the merits of Pollock’s techniques on canvas, but as a professional engineer I can say unequivocally that the JPDM is not an acceptable problem solving methodology.Read More