In food engineering, and any other mathematically-oriented discipline, one must become adept at solving problems using equations and mathematical principles. Many of the problems that food scientists and engineers face require the ability to apply physical and mathematical principles to solve equations and calculate necessary information. Thus, problem-solving abilities are extremely important, and we should be familiar with the general steps involved in problem solving. In many circumstances, word problems are used to describe a problem. To solve a problem, one must
Understand the intent of the problem Understand what information is given and what is needed Decide which approach is required Translate the statement into a mathematical expression Solve the problem
Any of these steps can inhibit one’s ability to solve a problem. Before we talk about problem-solving strategies, we should understand
the several types of problems that may be encountered in food engineering. These are:
Simple, close-ended problems: These are problems with a single correct answer that can be solved using a single correct approach. Manipulation of mathematical equations falls into this category. For example, given the required information on flow rates and heat-transfer coefficients, one can calculate the temperature of a product exiting a heat exchanger using the appropriate equations for heat transfer.