Subject: Mr. Wei’s class, Innovative Engineering Design
Pay attention, Scientists discover phenomena and find answers. But engineers detect problems and figure out solutions.
Today, I will help you to become creative engineers. How?
First, I talk about problem. Next, I will introduce three principles regarding how to solve problems in creative way. OK! Here we go!
What is problem? The problem is the needs.
For example, we all know the petroleum storage in our planet is getting fewer and fewer, and the climate is also growing unstable. So we need to create environment friendly cars.
In hindsight, we can clearly know that the problem is a lack of oil and greenhouse effect, or the need is more energy efficient cars with less emission.
But sometimes at the moment, we only feel messy. Why?
If I asked, “What’s your ideal car?”
Perhaps you will say, “Nice looking and comfortable.”
This is a mess.
What is nice looking? Is streamline or muscular style? Are there any products or animals we can refer to?
How to define comfortable? Through how supportive the seats are? Through the extent of noise or vibrations? Are there any objective indicators?
Because no solutions would satisfy hidden or untold needs, we should try to describe problems in a specific way in order to devise suitable solutions.
So first, describe problems as specifically as possible.
Ok, that’s going the second part, how to be innovative.
Creation is not a privilege that belongs to geniuses, but ordinary people also can produce stable creativity via systematic thinking.
There are 3 major principles to help us think systematically and I will give examples for each principle to inspire you.
The 1st principle Reverse
If we find our design doesn’t work, try to reverse its location, direction, or even orders.
For example, in the past, people used pumps to pump water, but they could only transmit water to 10 meters of height at most, because any more than 10 meters would result in the water evaporating by the vacuum made by the pump.
So engineers came up with an idea why not to put the pump beneath water, then push them, substituting the pumping!
Thanks to those engineers, now we can use water conveniently in skyscrapers with water-pushing pumps that allow us to transmit water higher than 200 meters.
If it doesn’t work, reverse it!
The 2nd principle Transfer
Transfer is a technique that involves referring from existing concepts in other domains and applying them to generate new designs.
For instance, one day in the slaughterhouse, a man saw butchers kill cattle and divide them into different each part, then they put parts on the conveyor belt.
He transferred this procedure into the manufacture industry and invented a production line, building his car kingdom.
He is Henry Ford.
This was what person good at transfer exactly did. Transfer it.
The last principle is the simplest one – Combine
Sometimes we combine two or more sorts of designs to become a new product.
Good instances include phones with cameras becoming camera phones, and motors with bicycles becoming electric bicycles. We even don’t need to invent a whole new thing to satisfy the needs, we just combine.
Of course, don’t be limited by those principles, but extend, modify and integrate them to solve your problems.
I sincerely hope those principles can provide you useful insight about how to solve problems in an innovative way.