Basics of Invention and Innovation

Great engineering systems, processes, and products are usually based largely on the exercise of inventive thinking and not on routine procedures for engineering analysis and optimization. Research could conservatively aim at making marginal improvements to the state of the art in the chosen domain, or it may be based on original and novel ideas and potentially lead to breakthrough impacts, discovery of new frontiers, or creation of truly disruptive technologies. Creative engineers and researchers use inventive, non-routine approaches and in most instances their creations clearly stand out. Inventive thinking and problem solving enrich professional life and bring prosperity to organizations and society. Creativity in technology, i.e. the ability to invent, can be acquired and enhanced.

This course intends to prepare the participants a) with a strong motivation and some knowledge to take the path of inventive thinking and b) to initiate and pursue the business environments that are built around novel ideas that lead to successful creation of marketable new products, processes, and systems.

The course uses a pragmatic approach based on the instructor’s own experiences in invention, technology development, and commercialization to familiarize the participants with the process of engaging creative thought that when augmented by the tools and techniques introduced in the course can lead to meaningful inventions leading to useful innovations that will reach the market place.

Essentials of inventive thinking and technological creativity that could lead to breakthrough engineering designs and research endeavors will be presented, and some basic principles of innovation within established companies and through new start up companies will be discussed. Several realistic case studies in invention and technology development will be presented in the context of each subject matter.

To explore one of the program case studies on invention, please view Prof. Berok Khoshnevis' TEDx Talk - Contour Crafting: Automated Construction.

What You Will Learn:
DAY 1: Inspirational
  • The duality of human mind - left and right brains distinction
  • Essentials of creative thinking
    • Goodness: The right attitude and value system
    • Beauty: The artistic side of us - appreciation and creation of beauty
    • Truth: In search of what is real with an open mind
  • Seeing the world differently - Visual thinking
  • Thinking differently - Imagination in balance with realism, seeing the unseen connections, seeing the significance and depth in everything, lateral thinking, 
tolerance for ambiguity, curiosity - the urge to know, inquisitiveness and importance of questioning
  • Living differently - The importance of having a vision, quest for meaning in life, the reality of failures and success, true meaning of productivity, meaning of happiness, and meaning of mortality
  • Creativity inhibitors
  • Related case studies
Idea generation
  • Technological creativity in idea generation
  • Creating ideas based on needs (Application Pull)
  • Creating ideas based on observation of phenomena (Technology Push)
  • Understanding the role and use of Space, Time, Matter, and Energy in invention
  • Recognition and effective use of resources and making use of constraints in invention
  • Using analogy and feature transfer for invention
  • Recognition of patterns of technological evolution and their use in invention
  • Related case studies
Turning ideas into meaningful inventions
  • The importance of basic technical knowledge
  • Being able to ask around
  • Using tools that can augment solution finding (e.g., TRIZ)
  • Related case studies
DAY 2: Technology development - Turning inventions into functional designs
  • Quick tests of feasibility
  • Basics of design and design tools - Computer Aided Design (CAD)
  • Building working prototypes - Classical and modern tools – 3D Printing
  • How to run experiments with prototypes
  • Related case studies
Intellectual property
  • Is idea protection always necessary?
  • Basic legal matters regarding IP
  • Patent search
  • Patent types and application process
  • Basics of patent law
  • Related case studies
The innovation process
  • The social impact of the technology – non-disruptive and disruptive technologies
  • Licensing out an invention or creating a venture to market it
  • Basics of intrapreneurship – Innovation within established companies
  • Basic of entrepreneurship – Innovation through start up companies
  • Market evaluation
  • Creating a business plan
  • Raising necessary funds
  • Creating the company
  • Operating the company
  • Turning prototypes into commercial products
  • Design for manufacturability, serviceability, and disposal
  • Incorporating the human element
  • Incorporating environmental issues
  • Related case studies

Custom Programs

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Published on July 11th, 2017

Last updated on April 11th, 2023