1st Edition

Problem Solving for New Engineers What Every Engineering Manager Wants You to Know

By Melisa Buie Copyright 2017
    286 Pages 80 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    286 Pages 80 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    This book brings a fresh new approach to practical problem solving in engineering, covering the critical concepts and ideas that engineers must understand to solve engineering problems. Problem Solving for New Engineers: What Every Engineering Manager Wants You to Know provides strategy and tools needed for new engineers and scientists to become apprentice experimenters armed only with a problem to solve and knowledge of their subject matter.

    When engineers graduate, they enter the work force with only one part of what’s needed to effectively solve problems -- Problem solving requires not just subject matter expertise but an additional knowledge of strategy. With the combination of both knowledge of subject matter and knowledge of strategy, engineering problems can be attacked efficiently. This book develops strategy for minimizing, eliminating, and finally controlling unwanted variation such that all intentional variation is truly representative of the variables of interest.

    Chapter 1: The Great Universal Cook-Off

    Chapter 2: Eureka! And the Myths of Discovery

    Chapter 3: Experimenting with Storytelling

    Chapter 4: All Data is Not Equal

    Chapter 5: Oops! Unintentional Variation

    Chapter 6: What, there is no truth?

    Chapter 7: It’s Random, and That’s Normal

    Chapter 8: Experimenting 101

    Chapter 9:  Experimenting 201  

    Chapter 10: Strategic Design: Bringing it All Together 

    Chapter 11: Where to Next?

    Chapter 12: One More Thing…


    Melisa Buie makes lasers and solves problems. In her role as Director of Operations, she works on both engineering and business problems. She joined Coherent and began lecturing at San Jose State University in 2007. She has also worked as a Research Scientist for Science Applications International Corporation working at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. where she made theoretical lasers. Melisa was a Member of the Technical Staff and Engineering Manager at Applied Materials, Inc. prior to joining Coherent.

    Melisa’s first book is Problem Solving for New Engineers: What Every Engineering Manager Wants You to Know which will be published in the summer of 2017. Melisa has co-authored of more than 40 publications and holds 6 patents. Melisa’s degrees include a PhD in Nuclear Engineering/Plasma Physics from the University of Michigan and a MS in Physics from Auburn University. She has a Six Sigma Black Belt from the American Society for Quality. She will complete a certification program in innovation leadership at Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 2017. She lives in Palo Alto, CA.


    "Dr. Buie’s Problem Solving for New Engineers presents a terrific introduction into the realistic experimental workspace and data analysis for new engineers and scientists. This well-written one-stop overview of experiment planning, execution and data reduction will be a beneficial stepping off point to anyone entering into the laboratory for the first time, as well as experienced experimenters reviewing what might go (or went!) wrong."

    -John Paff, Engineering Technology Manager, Spectra-Mat, Inc.

    "Finally a book that cultivates the rich landscape between human creativity and ingenuity, which motivates the scientist and engineer, and the rigors of applied experimental practice. Looking back over many years of engineering research development and manufacturing activities, I am ever surprised how common problem solving skills and experimental methodologies are infrequently cultivated alongside the prodigious evolution of technical knowledge and our means to generate data and simulate results. A thoughtful and approachable problem solving primer has long been needed for new engineers which combines core experimental principles used in engineering, science and applied statistics.  In academic settings, such subjects are still taught as parts of course work across disparate disciplines. But in contemporary industry, their combination becomes a mandatory core skill set and is key to success in the technical quality and communication of any engineer's creative endeavor.

    In Buie's book we have a contemporary amalgamation of applied experimental principles and methods presented in an approachable and motivating format. Dr. Buie draws from history, case studies, and real examples that breathes life into what might otherwise become a dry subject. Her passion for experimental investigation and its teaching is strongly evident as she traverses a subject matter that might take years of academic and industrial practice for an engineer to integrate and master."

    -Len Mahoney, Ph.D., Unit Process Engineer, Avago Technologies

    "Problem Solving for New Engineers offers a way to shape learning gained in school and bridge the gap to becoming a savvy, strategic problem solver, reducing the "groping in the dark" phase of mastering a discipline. This book enables the wisdom of mastery by providing key understandings and methods that are at the heart of an experimental discovery mindset. Approaches to moving fascination and wonder into realized outcomes are based in a context of inquiry, exploration and discovery that refine disciplined problem solving by happily traveling the unknown - one experiment at a time."

    -Diana Hagerty, Project Manager at General Atomics Aeronautical Systems

    "Melisa Buie is not only creative in her approach, but utterly aware of the challenges we face as engineers and scientists in practice. As I was going through the pages, I realized that the book mirrors my own experience. I wish something like this has been available when I was starting out."

    From Saman Choubak, Ph.D., Senior Research and Development Engineer at PepsiCo

    "Problem Solving for New Engineers, written by Dr. Melisa Buie, serves the fresh new engineers with plenty of methods, required for successful experimentation and process development in modern companies, with focus on, but not limited to nature sciences.

    The problem I observe so frequently with new engineers coming from the university - How to apply the knowledge about how experiment were performed by others, to efficient setup of our own experiments -is discussed at different levels and guidance is provided for closely every step on the way from collection the requirements to evaluation and qualification of the new process.

    Personally I most appreciate the balance between overview of methods a deep enough explanation, rather free of equations, which will not let you skip the rest of any chapter and fair comparison of the one-factor-at-a-time experimenting all of us learned at the university and statistical design of experiment.

    The text invites you to experiment on your own and eradiates the pleasure on investigation and development itself. Author’s knowledge of science history converts the scientific topic to easy to read lecture, you will enjoy also as bedtime story."

    -Pavel Nesladek, Ph.D., Member of Technical Staff, Advanced Technology Mask Center

    "I wish I had this book when I was a college student! I might have decided to become and engineer or a scientist. Melisa Buie brings her background in industry and academia together in a balanced and effective way. This is not your usual dry textbook. I laughed out loud in places! It’s a must have "how to" reference book focused on important engineering and scientific concepts, communicating experiments and research effectively and being a successful engineer or scientist in academia or private industry. The material is presented in an exciting, real and sometime humorous way by using stories, sharing life experiences and revisiting discoveries of the great scientists throughout history. As someone who has been responsible for recruiting new engineers fresh out of college, reading this book should be a prerequisite for being hired."

    -Noël Kreidler, Owner, Kreidler Solutions, providing over 25+ years of experience in Talent Acquisition and Human Resources

    "In today’s fast paced technology industry, being able to efficiently attack issues and clearly share learning is critical. As Dr Buie points out, many engineers entering the workforce have a strong science background but their real life problem solving skills are not as developed. This book is a wonderful overview of problem solving strategies, experiment design and data analysis needed to succeed in a world driven by constant discovery. I especially appreciate the sections on graphing, as poorly communicated learning within cross functional teams can lead to wasted time and effort down the road. This text should be required reading for all newly hired engineers and a welcome reference for those of us who have worked in this industry for many years."

    -Jeremiah Pender, Ph.D., Sr. Engineering Development Manager, Applied Materials, Inc.

    "Buie provides insight into problem solving and experimentation that is far beyond what is found in a typical textbook. This book provides the framework for how statistical tools and experimental strategies learned in the classroom fit into the laboratory and onto the production floor. This is a must read for new engineers who are transitioning from school to the work place. For seasoned problem-solvers this book provides a great refresher and new insight into being better experimenters."

    -Karen Copeland of Boulder Statistics 

    "An easy to understand and enjoyable to read introduction to the important concepts of variation, measurements, and statistical design of experiments that will give readers creative tools to discover invaluable insights into the solution of complex scientific and engineering problems." 

    -From David Trindade, PhD, Fellow and Chief Officer of Best Practices, Bloom Energy