Think

Innovation – the introduction of something new, a new idea, method, or device

Bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers and laser printers – all were invented by women.

History & Bios – Famous Inventions & Famous Inventors – Explore the history behind your favorite inventions and learn about the lives of the famous inventors that created them. Inventions are the ingenious gadgets and machines that have made our lives a little more fun, interesting, and useful. Real inventions are the things that we did not think were possible yesterday that we can not live without today.

Making the world work better

Innovation is the development of new values through solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulate needs, or old customer and market needs in value adding new ways. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society.

Innovation, invention and improvement are similar but different.

  • Invention – Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself.
  • Improvement – Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different rather than doing the same thing better.

THINK: A film about making the world work better (video 9:56) – Four distinct stories of progress show how a challenge once considered unsolvable was addressed: Sending a man to the moon, sequencing the rice genome, making medicine personal and reducing traffic congestion. Across the diversity of these examples, the film reveals how progress was made possible by a combination of people and technology, and by taking a distinct approach to making the world work better — seeing, mapping, understanding, believing and acting. Today, this very approach can be used to tackle challenges large and small.

Failure is an option – and a good one. Think of a failed attempt as a learning experience. Now you know what doesn’t work or doesn’t work very well. But that is good. That will help in finding a better solution.

Learn from others’ mistakes. You don’t have time to make them all yourself.

I don’t know –

I need help –

Design Thinking – How to Design Breakthrough Inventions: 60 Minutes (video 12:40} Global firm IDEO incorporates human behavior into product design — an innovative approach being taught at Stanford. Interview with the company’s founder, David Kelley.

Things that make you go “Hmm… New and interesting stuff, cool design ideas, products and services that are out there… and where to find them. There is a lot of interest in innovation as it relates to engineering – designing man-made objects and structures to meet some human need.

  • The Frontier Is Everywhere – Carl Sagan narrates. Lots of engineering and natural world intertwined.
  • Core77 Design magazinecoffee pot
  • Interesting Engineering
  • 10 NASA Inventions – NASA’s activities are not just restricted to space research and exploration. It has contributed immensely to the invention of some break-through products that has become staple to our everyday life. Over the years NASA has partnered with various research organizations and teams and produced several products that have made life easier for us – enriched baby food, water filters, and shoe insoles, and more technologically advanced things like long distance telecommunications and camera phones.

Fail fast. Fail cheap

Innovation engineering is based on our natural curiosity and interest in learning new things that spark great ideas. The three simple things that get it all started – “I Don’t Know”, “I Need Help”, and “I Love To Fail”. Sounds pretty straightforward, but many people find these surprising difficult. Great engineers and innovators have no problem with any of these three!

  • Ask – So what’s the problem? That’s the usual place to start. Learn what the situation is. Ask lots of questions. And listen to learn. What is known? What needs to be known about the problem?
  • Imagine – Other people – past and present can be great resources. Research, discussions, reading are good sources of new information and ideas. Interactions with others opened your mind to new thinking, new ideas and new ways of doing things. Consider the possibilities. Can something old be used in a new way? Can something new be used in an old way?
  • Plan – It is ok to not be an expert in everything. But it is important to know your part. Being prepared and ready to work and learning play a big part in recognizing an innovation opportunity. Is everything that can be planned taken care of?
  • Create – Time to try those new ideas. Yes, there is a chance they won’t work, but how are you going to know if you don’t try. Start with small, quick failures, to get your confidence up. This is a learning experience. By failing fast and cheap, this may turn out to be more valuable than the time and cost of the “failure.” Success? Wonderful – now move on to the next. Did it work? If not, why not?
  • Improve – Whatever happened – learn from the “failure.” That was the whole point. Failures should not need to be repeated. Move on. What will be different next time? What will make it better?

Engineering vocabulary, concepts

  • random event, reliable, scientific system, never ending innovation, risk

Do it
Here are some challenges for you to work on….

  • Invention Connection – Trace the paths of innovation from the microwave to the mouse. Play the game
  • come up with a wild and crazy idea for an “engineered solution” to an annoying everyday problem you encounter. Then think about all the things that would be needed for your innovation. It is good to practice innovation. It can come in handy.
  • study engineered solutions and look for the innovation. What motivated the innovation? Is there a history of failures leading up to the innovative solution?

Learn more…