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Engg1000 14s2 Phase 1

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Learning Portfolio 1
“To design and construct an appropriate water filter and quality testing system to supply clean and drinkable water for a remote Nepalese community.”

My original problem statement

In the process of devising a team problem statement, each member was given 10 minutes to generate an individual problem statement which addressed the objectives and identified the constraints outlined in the brief. This followed Dym’s model as shown in the prescribed ‘Engineering Design: 4th Ed’ textbook. My original statement devised was as followed:

“To conceptually design and construct a suitable water filtration system which has an attached, functional turbidity meter for household use by locals in the remote Nepalese community of Sandikhola.”

My aim in devising this problem statement was to make it as short and direct as possible in a way which provided necessary coverage of the objectives and constraints. However, upon close inspection, I realised that my problem statement contained unnecessary wording such as “conceptually”, “attached” and “functional” which made my problem statement less direct and longer. Furthermore, I used ambiguous wording such as “household use” which implied that the product was confined to local families only and not for communal use. This was not completely addressed in the brief so the term used here is meant to be broad in order to not constrain potential solutions to the client problem. Moreover, incorporating “turbidity meter” may complicate the problem statement as turbidity is not a well-known method of measurement. Consequently, a simpler restatement was required. As a result, with self-evaluation, I proceeded to generate another problem statement:

“To design and construct a prototype water filtering and quality testing system for appropriate use by locals in the remote Nepalese community of Sandikhola.”

The above problem restatement was finalised as my individual problem statement. While being short and direct, I considered minimalising any compromises made to addressing the objectives and constraints outlined in the brief. I did this by separating the problem restatement into individual components: underlined are action words which show what the team intends to do; included in italics is the client product that the team intends on designing and constructing; and in bold are constraints represented by broad terms.

Team problem statement refinement process

My team intended on carrying out a problem statement refinement process through a supplementary one-hour group meeting outside the one scheduled in the ENGG1000 course. As outlined in ‘My original problem statement’, each member present developed their own problem statement within 10 minutes. Beforehand though, a discussion on what defines a problem statement and specifications which made an ideal problem statement was undertaken – this covered aspects such as keeping the problem statement direct and simple whilst keeping it sufficiently broad as to not limit the potential solutions of the client product. A constructive team discussion followed which aimed at productively criticising the problem statement of each individual member as well as integrating all the positive ideas involved in each member’s problem statement into crafting a central team problem statement. Fortunately, each member was able to present different ideas which were all considered or incorporated into the final team problem statement. This devised team problem statement underwent further group evaluation as to satisfy the specifications of an ideal problem statement as discussed earlier. As a group, we believed that through holding the discussions as outlined above, we were able to generate individual problem statements which we could individually be satisfied with as well as effectively generating an optimal team problem statement.

However, it was evident that not enough time was provided for self-evaluation for the original individual problem statements. In addition, the absence of three team members limited the input generated from team discussions and so the final team problem statement may not have been as optimal as it could have been. These factors hindered the effectiveness of the meeting.

What I learned about design and teamwork

In the team’s recent meetings, we decided to split certain responsibilities between technical streams. This included independent research into the economic and cultural requirements of resources to satisfy geographical constraints, the design and function of various suitable water filtering mechanisms and the operation of microcontroller-based turbidity meters. A team consensus determined that it was best to allocate responsibilities to specific technical streams based on their individual strengths. As a team member who strives to make complete use of what is put in front of them, I believe that through this outlook I can effectively motivate each member to visualise the ideal, final product of the team’s effort and so encourage them to strive. Additionally, through my previous knowledge in water filtering, I believe I can constructively contribute to the design of the system whilst educating other team members in the process.…...

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