Flashcards in Behavioural Deck (28)
Sometimes it is necessary to abandon tried and true methods of solving a problem. Tell me about a problem you were responsible for solving that you knew required a unique solution. How did you know established methods wouldn’t work?
Brakes for the bicycle launching device of the crash test dummy project. Conventional braking would have caused too much vibration to keep the bicycle stable after the launch. We used an elastic spring to halt the launching cart and reset its position.
We all know that some problems just don’t have a solution. Tell me about a problem you tried to solve but couldn’t. What solutions did you try? How did you come up with those solutions?
The crash test dummy project had a major issue with stabilization ~ the bicycle had to travel about 20 feet then collide with a moving car. We were not allowed to change the design of the bicycle or dummy and the launch site was uneven and not smooth. We tried to manipulate the dummy to keep the weight centered, we tried to manipulate the release point from the launch cart, and we manipulated the acceleration and final velocity of the launch. The solutions became apparent as the bicycle launch would fail 100% of the time. Our final solutions gave us about a 50% success rate but did not satisfy the stability condition that we were aiming for.
People are often resistant to change. What steps have you taken to overcome resistance to change?
I embrace change and I believe that it is key for development of ourselves and for humanity. Someone once told me that we learn best when we are far out of our comfort zone or what we are used to. I realize that I naturally prefer to stick with general procedures but I am not afraid of change when it is necessary.
Tell me about the most diverse group/team that you’ve been a part of. What problems did you encounter? What did you do? What happened?
- a. Perhaps Algonquin college design team. It ended up being a major success ~ Although it was tough at first to get everyone on the same page, each member had their own advantages to bring to the table. I was the project leader of a 4 person group that was in charge of simulation and scene emulation for the crash test dummy project which had 25 members in total.
- b. Each member was from a different country, and had very different study/work habits and very different prior experience. At first it was very difficult to get the team to meet due to various other obligations, then it was a challenge to get the team to agree on ideas or brainstorms. After some team building exercises and assigning roles based on each person’s strengths, we found common ground and became a very productive team.
Describe a time when your goals or preferences were not included in a final team/group decision. How did you respond?
In the final revision of my capstone project at university, I wanted the abstract and summary of the submission to be very formal and concise. However, some of the other teammates would not agree with this and we ended up submitting somewhat more casual documentation. I told the team that I was in disagreement but accepted the new documentation and proceeded with other finishing touches of the project.
Sometimes we comply with a team decision, even though we have personal reservations. Describe a time when this happened to you.
I was on a design team in college in which we had to make a formal presentation. One of the members had refused to wear a tie to the presentation but wouldn’t explain why. The presentation had a specific dress code and the team wanted to match. In the end, we didn’t match and the professor made note of that during marking.
Interacting with others can be challenging at times. Tell me about the greatest difficulty you faced when trying to get along with peers, team members, or others at work/school. How did you handle the situation?
a. In university, I started a larger assignment in a small group of friends. After initializing the project with them, I realized that they didn’t want to put a great deal of effort into this assignment and when we met up the meeting ended up being casual and not a lot would get accomplished. Frustrated from the standstill, I suggested assigning tasks to each member and having that work verified at the next meeting by other members. The solution worked surprisingly well and there were no conflicts at the next meeting.(James talking in circles)
Tell me about a time when you had to step in to help a group or team complete a task/project/assignment. What did you do?
I worked in a small team to complete a Matlab modeling project that had to do with vibrations in a chosen system. My colleague had a good understanding of the vibration modeling but needed me to step in and configure his Matlab coding and debugging his scripts. I also helped other groups who had similar problems with this project.
*We all have difficulty meeting challenging goals or objectives? Can you supply some examples of where you weren’t able to meet the required goal or objective? What was the situation? What approach did you take? What was the result?
a. Our capstone project in university was overly ambitious and we could not finish the complete technical specifications and user manual as we intended for our industrial partner. The situation was a bit unique, in that the industrial partner was willing to complete the project and go from where we left off. It was apparent fairly early that this project was going to be very large and that there would be some omissions. Through correspondence we made agreements along the way to ensure that both our professor and the industrial partner was satisfied.
b. Another example comes from a summer job where I was entering rebate claims for tire suppliers. I set a goal with my boss to breach 1000 claims in a week (on average) where the company average was 800 per week. I didn’t end up making it to 1000 claims in a 40 hour workweek.
Describe for me a time when you were particularly effective at achieving end results. What steps did you take to achieve the results?
I set a very high standard for myself on the first day at 360. The boss suggested that the average total claims on the first day for an employee was 30 claims. I was also informed that a well trained employee can do about 150 claims per day. I aimed for over 100 claims and ended up with approximately 140 on my first day. I used my first hour or so to devote my entire focus to the training manual and learned about all of the things that may hold me back such that I can avoid wasting any time. I also put aside any claims that needed a unique solution until I had a significant number of them before asking the boss for assistance.
What steps have you taken to improve your skills or performance? Give me an example of when you did this.
I am a person that invests in progressive development for myself. Going to college to learn hand-on type of training for engineering was my first step. I then went to university to round out the theoretical side of engineering. Closer to the end of my university experience, I found that for studying purposes I would do an assignment with all of the documentation required, then redo it without any assistance as many times as it took until I could commit the problem solving process to memory. I find myself constantly looking for minor ways to improve myself as a problem solver.
Describe a situation in which you identified a problem and took action to correct it rather than wait for someone else to do so.
La Piazza ~ I was assigned to prepping the stations for the lunch rush and the dinner rush, then I would go on to make pizzas through the rush. On many occasions, I would pull something out that was ready if another cook wasn’t available to get it right away. I remember this one time, it was after the rush and the chef had gone out back to deal with a delivery and had left meatballs in the oven cooking. I wasn’t aware of the order because it didn’t deal with my stations but I had checked the oven and noticed that the meatballs were fully done. I took them out to prevent them from burning even though I was not supposed to interfere with the chef. However, he was very happy that I saved the meatballs and was astonished at his own mistake.
Walk me through a situation in which you had to do research and analyze the results for one of your classes.
In a computational methods course, all of my colleagues found it very tough to understand a certain mathematical sequence that was brought up in class. Even after asking the professor for clarification, most couldn’t understand the process. I ended up doing significant research on the methods used to understand and explain to others the missing information and how it applied to our methods.
Walk me through a situation in which you asked a lot of questions of several people to get the information you needed to make an effective decision. How did you know what to ask?
b. An example of this is for a current decision. In my job search, I asked many past colleagues who are now employed or have been employed for a few years about the job searching process and interviewing process. After asking many others about their thoughts or opinions, I made a decision to stick with applying to designer jobs. I did a bit of research about this before asking anyone so that I had the appropriate questions to ask. Such as which elements of my resume were most valuable, and which companies took your application more seriously.
Describe an occasion when you decided to involve others in making a decision. Why did you do so? To what extent did you use their contributions?
(in every team I choose to include all members in making a decision if they feel that they should be involved. I feel that if the decision affects the team, it is worthwhile to get their input and confidence with the decisions that are to be made. I usually take their contributions to heart.)
b. Every collaborative effort at school that everyone worked together as a team and shared the decision making. The result was that I found success in every assignment or project.
It is impossible to predict the exact outcomes of a risky decision. Tell me about a risky decision that you wish you had made but didn’t. Why didn’t you?
Staying for a third year at Carleton University. I had struggled in my second year at Carleton University and it was suggested to me to go to Algonquin college to get a diploma as a technologist. However, I went to several meetings with counselors at Carleton about it and they suggested that I could stay at university if I switched into a general science degree. It was a huge risk to move to Algonquin and I felt that a university degree was superior. Later, I did find a solution that allowed me to go get a diploma and degree so it turned out that I lost a year due to not taking the risk.
What was the toughest academic decision you had to make? How did you make that decision? What alternatives did you consider?
Going to college. I started in university out of highschool and found it a bit overwhelming as I was still unsure of what I wanted to do. I tried engineering, and then I switched into a science degree to see if I could find what I wanted there. After that, I heard about the college and university transfer diploma and degree. I also considered switching into a math degree because that was where my strengths were. I am proud of the decision that I have made.
Describe the most complex problem you’ve recently been asked to solve. What did you do? What alternatives did you consider?
I took a master’s level course in my final year in university and the entire course was based around one problem. It was a non-linear-intregro-partial-differential equation with time dependant variations. It demanded a strong understanding of complex functions, differential equations, computational methods, and beam modeling. I found this problem to be extremely difficult and it took many hours of research and getting help from several professors and colleagues to get the framework down for this project. I considered generating an automated process to gather vibrational analysis information to reduce the total time needed but chose not to.
Describe a time when you took a risk that you later regretted. What happened?
In school, I had a 2 assignments that were due at the same time and had too many other obligations to fully complete both. One was very important to me and had others depending on me so I chose to fully complete that task. However, I quickly found that it was impossible for me to complete the other task by the deadline and it had serious effects on my grade for the other course.
Describe a time when you took a risk and you were glad you did. What factors did you consider before you took action?
Taking the masters course. I took the course knowing that I was more than likely not going to continue with my Masters. I was able to use the credit as an undergraduate course but I felt that the level of the course would help push me to the next level in terms of problem solving and engineering knowledge. I had considered that it may negatively affect my GPA as well as take a great deal of time out of my week that I could use on other courses. In the end, I was very happy with my grades and very happy with my personal growth as a result.
Describe a time when you chose a low/no-risk option over one with higher risk. Why did you rule out the option with a higher risk?
Master’s class self populating vibration analysis. I knew that the manual work would take 40 hours or so and that the self populating program could be generated, run, and then implemented in as short as 10 hours. However, I also couldn’t verify the results without doing a significant amount of manual calculations and I had a very tight deadline so I opted out of the risk and made the deadline.
It can be difficult to get people to think “outside the box.” Tell me about a time when you were able to get others to go beyond conventional thinking. What did you do? What happened?
Algonquin project ~ the project had been ongoing for several years and had not been successful since implementation. When my group took on the project, we found that the testing procedure had the correct launch parameters but the results were always unpredictable. Our team decided to change the launch device from a cable pull to a chain guided launch. This not only fixed the stability of the launch, but it also fixed numerous problems with setup and safety.
Unfortunately, some solutions don’t always correct problems. Can you think of a creative solution you generated that did not correct a problem? What was the solution? How did you come up with that idea?
Lakehead capstone project: Design, develop & implement a controlled experiment. Flow calc based on initial designs suggested we could blow air into system and would give required dilution for anticipated solution (sand per hour). Experimented, assumed we could create a 2nd source of air (forced) into dispenser to help suspend the sand and create charge system. Did not work, instead created suction system which succeeded.
Sometimes it can be difficult and frustrating to obtain information from other people in order to solve a problem or achieve goals. Please describe a situation you’ve had like this. What did you do?
Subcontractor at Honeywell. When I was working as a subcontractor for Honeywell and doing my first as-builts.. I had a lot of technical questions that I was unable to answer. I approached my mentor for guidance and they were unable to provide answers for me and told me to call the tech or PM. Because I was so new, in my first phone call it was very challenging to find the appropriate questions for the answers that I needed. To rectify this, I found time and sat down with the technical lead who could guide me during my first assignments. (Parthiv Shaw, John Heung)
Give me an example of a good decision you made recently. What alternatives did you consider? Why was it a good decision?
Applying to this job. I found from prior experience as a subcontractor for Honeywell that it was the right fit for me. I have applied elsewhere and I was considering the option of getting into patent law as a possible option for me. It was a good decision because I got an interview with the company.
Tell me about a time when you took action despite knowing that the odds for success were slim. What was your rationale for taking the action? What happened?
Trying out for Team Ontario Rugby. I was from a small team out in the country and the provincial team was known to take mostly from big city teams. I was the captain of the rugby team and had a huge support system that believed in me even though some of the others trying out were already on the team, played with people from the team, or had professional trainers. My coach encouraged me to try out because of my ability on the field. I didn’t make the team but I found that I was very competitive with the others on the try out day.
Describe a time when you needed to share information that would benefit your team/group. What did you do? What was the result?
Lakehead project (Pneumatic Sanding and Storage System). I needed to run an experiment to determine the feasibility of some components and prove the concept of our vacuum system. The results of the experiment needed to be shared to complete the design. After publishing and analyzing the results, we found that our innovative design concept wouldn’t work in its current state and it had to be modified.