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Engineering Creativity Peaks in Kindergarten

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AnandY
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Re:Engineering Creativity Peaks in Kindergarten
AnandY   4/19/2013 7:43:26 AM
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Yes, creativity among young children is high compared to adults. I was amazed to see how my one year daughter started recognizing colours, shapes, birds, animals, vehicles. They have very keen observation capacity. They will be in their own world busy in doing something or the other without thinking about end result.

Pubudu
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Re:Engineering Creativity Peaks in Kindergarten
Pubudu   4/29/2013 2:38:00 AM
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Yes AnandY I totally agree with you, I think that those things happen why because of the childhood they have no any parameters to lock at , in generally we called that "Think out of the box" I think that in childhood they are in out of the box when they get older they will go in to the box. 

tekochip
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My Granny
tekochip   4/19/2013 9:15:58 AM
It's not often I quote my sainted grandmother, but after raising more than her share of children she always said that children lose their intelligence as soon as they go to school. She lamented sending another off to kindergarten because she knew that the child would be stripped of all his creativity. She was saying that 50 years ago, and the schools have only gotten that much worse. For everyone's safety, of course.


Pubudu
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Re: My Granny
Pubudu   4/29/2013 2:47:33 AM
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True tekochip, In the schools they learn planed things for future use, but before going to an schools they do the things on their own ways when they are trying to do things in a very first time they think, they use brain, on the other hand after teaching how to do things they will follow just only the steps, they use brain only to keep steps in mind. 

naperlou
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Not suprising, and perhaps not important
naperlou   4/19/2013 12:04:09 PM
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Joe, this is an interesting exercise, but I am not sure of how important it is.  Frankly, your article seems to imply that building off of existing ideas and concepts is not good.  Frankly, it is the source of our prosperity.  If every designer had to, or felt they had to, start from scratch, then we would not make the progress we do.

Many years ago, while working for a large compnay, I saw a study that was done internally regarding patent production.  The suprising result is that people who were involved in patents tended to be productive at the begining of their carreers, and then late in their careers.  Yes, they were as productive late in their careers.  When we looked at what was going on we discovered that in mid-career people were more concerned with career and building families and the like.  Once they had settled, if they were still involved in design they became creative again.  My experience since then has just reinforced this.  I have even found in small companies, where the owner was also the creative spark behind the engineering, that this trend continues. 

Engineering is, by definition, a creative activity.  Engineers solve problems and create new things.  Many times these new things can be the creative use of existing things.  One the other hand engineers often come up with totally new ways to do things.  I worked in aerospace in the first part of my career and there were many times where this was required.  And we did not use any kindergarteners.

trevormilli
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Re: Not suprising, and perhaps not important
trevormilli   4/19/2013 4:38:40 PM
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Naperlou - wrong.


This article does not imply that building off of existing ideas is not good. 

Reread the paragraph, "Some people believe that, as engineers, we never need to rise above Taylor's second or third levels. As engineers, we may never operate at the emergent creativity level. By the very nature of the definition of engineering (applying the laws of physics to convert science into products meeting needs), we don't need to become an Einstein or a da Vinci. That's OK, and it's a concept supported by the findings of others. It's what we do as engineers. We find ways to build on the work of others. The challenge, in most cases, is finding the appropriate approach and using it creatively."

You are correct - and Joe agrees - that engineering is an inherently creative activity.  Joe goes on to state that engineers typically exercise expressive, technical, and inventive modes of creativity. 

trevormilli
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Re: Not suprising, and perhaps not important
trevormilli   4/19/2013 5:13:38 PM
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Mark Z.'s Facebook is a prime example of inventive creativity.  Facebook took an existing idea and created a new design.  Facebook went on to exercise innovative and emergent creativity in their program which has changed the world so much that we are beyond the point of no return.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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N-I-H, means Not-Invented-Here
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   4/19/2013 6:12:11 PM
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Your summation of Engineer's developments is absolutely true.  We are homogeneously blended into the world around us, and cannot help but behave in predictable fashion.

Regarding patents,  I'd estimate that 99% of all patents granted at the USPTO are derivative in nature. Ironically, one primary criterion used to actually "grant" a patent is novelty.  (I speak from experience, I have 24 granted. ONE is pretty cool; the others,,,,not so much). Almost seems to be an oxy-moron, doesn't it-? 

Conversely, when I was in the thick of on-going product development for an electronics Giant in the 90's, the vast engineering community, rewarded for patent disclosures per person, had the common slang, "N-I-H", meaning Not-Invented-Here, so they would always attempt to derive around the most obvious solutions in order to get a new feather in their cap.

Greg M. Jung
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Hierarchy or Circle?
Greg M. Jung   4/19/2013 9:52:23 PM
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Interesting article.  Looking at Taylors's Hierarchy of Creativity and its definition, it almost looks like Emergent Creativity should flow back into Expressive Creativity as the next step for continuity like a circle, rather than a pyramid.  (Reminds me of the Tao sign where things flow back to their original source).

Dave Palmer
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Childs' play
Dave Palmer   4/19/2013 11:06:05 PM
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My favorite movies are almost always kids' movies or nature films, and I usually have one or more Happy Meal toy on my desk at work. Now I have an excuse! I'm enhancing my engineering creativity.

Charles Murray
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Borrowed ideas
Charles Murray   4/20/2013 10:23:36 AM
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As a writer, I find myself getting ideas from previous articles in Design News or articles I've seen elsewhere. I often read other magazines -- the New Yorker, for example -- that have content that's completely unrelated to the content in Design News. Sometimes, I find that the treatment of a certain topic can be applied to our articles, resulting in a fresh approach. I also look at old DN articles for ideas. Next week, for example, we're running an article about famous people who started out as engineers. That article idea was taken directly from a story I wrote in 1998. So, now, I'm actually borowing ideas from myself. The bottom line is, I'm at an age when most of my ideas ar borrowed. I can take a fresh approach or put a new twist on it, but part of the idea is nevertheless borrowed from a bank of experience.

mrdon
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Re: Borrowed ideas
mrdon   4/20/2013 2:23:15 PM
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Charles, I totally agree to what you wrote. I do the same for writing my books, and articles: I put a new spin on previous written material and I use personal experiences. As adults we have been conditioned to using experience as a way of putting a new spin on something old. Although, I still believe creativity in adults is not dead.

Charles Murray
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Re: Borrowed ideas
Charles Murray   4/22/2013 6:38:25 PM
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I agree with you on both counts, mrdon. Learning from experience, keeping what works and eliminating what doesn't, finding successful patterns -- it's all a form of intelligence. Sometimes, it's even called wisdom. But as you say, we have to somehow keep in touch with our creativity, and not throw out the creative ideas too readily. That's the hard part.

Totally_Lost
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Re: Borrowed ideas
Totally_Lost   4/20/2013 3:32:09 PM
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Charles, I have to agree as an engineer as well ... this is explictly a point I make to young engineers I hire, and even my daughter in mechanical engineering school.

Everything we do as engineers builds on others advances ... in design, in materials, in production equipment, in components, in subassemblies, and in completed products. Nearly all of us if we were transported back to 2000BC, would find our  skills completely useless, because few have enough of the complete knowledge needed to rebuild the composite infrastrure behind our trade today. In most cases, even a few hundred carefully selected people, would not be enough to recreate a fraction of the supporting infrastructure we take for granted, in their remaining lifetimes, if transported back to 2000BC.

No matter how hard we try, the projects we design for production, are at least founded on the ability to source materials and manufacture them. That in itself is the enabiling part of every technology.

I, and nearly every other really good engineer, have had truely great ideas at some time, that simply could not be implement or manufactured at that time ... or even 10 years later, because the supporting components, tooling, fabrication, and materials would not yield a viable working product.

Sometimes, the market just doesn't exist for the product yet.

That doesn't stop us from putting it in the back of our minds, and re-evaluating the state of the art every few years, until we can find a way to make the product a reality, in a thriving market.

mrdon
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Re: Borrowed ideas
mrdon   4/20/2013 3:53:30 PM
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Totally_Lost, You make some very good valid points regarding availablity of technology and solving problems. Also, there is another element to stifle creativity and that is radical ideas or concepts that individuals fear or not able to grasp. Preston Tucker had radical ideas about safety and convenience features for automobiles but the Big 3 felt threaten and therefore squashed his dream car concept. Although Preston believed in his vision and the contributions the lone inventor can make to society , some folks' convictions are not strong enough to stand against the Big Machines of Bureauracy. Those who aspire to create are now afraid to do so because of previous squashed attempts to improve society.

Nancy Golden
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Cultural Aspect to Non-Original Thinking
Nancy Golden   4/21/2013 10:47:43 PM
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The lack of creativity in engineering can also be cultural. Some cultures discourage thinking "outside of the box." All math problems for example, are to be worked in one particular way. If a student attempts a different approach, they are chastized rather than encouraged. The children are taught to think in a uniform manner which stifles creativity, because "new" thinking has been discouraged. If one deviates from the prescribed method (regardless of the reason) they will face negative consequences.

Debera Harward
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Re: Cultural Aspect to Non-Original Thinking
Debera Harward   4/22/2013 5:18:37 AM
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I agree to your comment that usually people are discouraged thinking out the box.However it is the fact that kindergarten children are more creative than adults and there are reasons for that, first of all children just dont think they just split out what is going in their minds without considering whether it is possible or not and that is the most important thing in generating new ideas.Secondly adults usually are in different sort of stress it can be any and that act as a hinderance in generating new ideas .Third the most important one is because adults are sensible  they think before they speak similarly they think alot before generating new ideas wheather it will be acceptable by the higher authorities like government and so on and they themselves assume that it will either be not accepted or it will be  very difficult going all around the processes of government so they just stop their minds there only.Similarly in many organisations they just ask their employees to follow specified guidelines and follow defined SOPS this kills their thinking and creative approach.

Nancy Golden
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Re: Cultural Aspect to Non-Original Thinking
Nancy Golden   4/22/2013 10:05:27 AM
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Debera, I think you make a very good point about children saying whatever is on their minds. As adults, we have learned to subconsciously apply filters to whatever we are thinking for many reasons including those you mentioned - so that by the time it comes out of our minds, it is no longer our original thoughts. I love how kids just say what they are thinking, although I can certainly think of a time or two where that wasn't the case LOL

Debera Harward
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Re: Cultural Aspect to Non-Original Thinking
Debera Harward   4/22/2013 11:47:55 AM
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Nancy you are absolutely correct ,Kids just dont think what they are saying they are never consious about their talks or conversations.

Secondly what i think is that in our professional enviornment people are never encouraged if they provide any new or creative idea they are always asked to either make some changes in the already existing one or to modify it and  if someone tries to creat a new idea then its a bad day for that particular employee .

Nancy Golden
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Re: Cultural Aspect to Non-Original Thinking
Nancy Golden   4/22/2013 11:53:08 AM
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I agree, Debera - and people are very resistant to even small changes, let alone large ones that require a new way of thinking. It's usually so much easier to do things like you have always done them and in this economy of corporate downsizing people are often asked to wear several hats - being creative would increase an already heavy workload. Part of it is also the corporate culture. If an organization encourages creativity as a foundational value - people won't be afraid to offer creative solutions.

Critic
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Youthful Creativity
Critic   4/22/2013 9:45:45 AM
I have often looked back at my own creativity when I was younger, and wish I could now be as creative as I once was.  I think education has played a role; I have learned what I "can't" do.  When I was young, I tried to do things that I didn't know were not possible, and in so doing, created.  In some cases, I created what had already been created, but that was OK with me.

It's not just education though.  I believe there are other factors:

1. As a middle-aged professional, there are many demands/constraints placed on engineering creativity.  We have to be done by a specific date, and under a specific cost, and there are techology constraints.

2. Employers often don't know how to or care to encourage creativity.  They don't recognize good creation and don't reward it.  We are all expected to just do what we are told and work long hours.

3. Our minds are typically not as agile as they once were.  We don't take the time to exercise our minds in the right ways to enhance creativity.

4. There are many things we'd rather do than create, because the things require less effort or produce more reward.

5. I have been criticized, when I write, for just re-hashing old technology, rather than presenting anything new.  It's not that there aren't any new ideas, it is that the technological paper trail has to be in place or an idea will not be accepted.  Ideas are not accepted just because they are creative; they have to be based on older ideas.

6. We are expected to only produce good ideas when in reality, most ideas are either bad ones or ideas that some else already had.  Thomas Edison had some good ideas (or at least he capitalized on the ideas of others), but he also had some very bad ideas, e.g. concrete furniture.  He didn't invent the light bulb; he just made some improvements to it.

So how do we maintain creativity?  Ignore deadlines and cost constraints (ever wonder why engineers often do this?), learn to encourage creativity in others, take time to color outside the lines or gaze at the stars frequently, don't always choose the immediate-gratification path, start your own paper trail, and don't worry about generating bad ideas.  Just work hard and be faithful, you'll get your reward!

 

 

Dave Palmer
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Re: Youthful Creativity
Dave Palmer   4/22/2013 6:08:08 PM
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@Critic: On the contrary, I think constraints force us to be more creative.  If it doesn't matter how much something costs, how much it weighs, how long it takes, how easy it is to manufacture, etc. -- then why do you need to be creative in the first place?

You can't come up with creative solutions to problems if you don't understand the problems in the first place.  And it takes a lot more creativity to come up with solutions that actually work than to come up with fanciful solutions that don't work.  This is why companies hire trained engineers, rather than just finding a bunch of kindergarteners and paying them in apple juice and cookies.

I think a combination of both outlooks is essential.  You need a grown-up understanding of the constraints within which you have to operate, as well as a childlike ability to question the "givens."

bobjengr
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Engineering Creativity
bobjengr   4/22/2013 5:52:14 PM
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Joseph.  In the appliance industry all designs are definitely evolutionary and not revolutionary.  The last really "out-of-the -box" idea brought forth by GE Appliances was induction cooking. Great idea but due to complexities and cost, not really that practical.  I had one of the very first prototypes in my home and loved it.  When the program was killed, GE came, took the range, gave me a standard product and junked the device.   There is no doubt in my mind that the pinnacle of engineering creativity was evidenced by Kelly Johnson's "Skunk Works".   The SR-71, F104, U-2, etc. are examples of creativity at work.  For those guys, education did not edge out creativity.  Great post.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Engineering Creativity
Cabe Atwell   4/22/2013 5:57:31 PM
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Loss of creativity should be re-defined as lack of desire.

It is easier to do nothing than to do something. I've said this for decades. Why read a book, watch the movie, it's less work. Why draw a picture that will never sell, when you can play video games.

I think it all comes down to drive and choice, and not the various defined creativity levels. Drive to do anything, and the choice to spend the time doing it.

On kids' creativity...

 C

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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NO WONDER!!!!
OLD_CURMUDGEON   4/23/2013 10:28:43 AM
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Now I know!  I always thought there was a scientific reason, but never realized it.  All those decades ago when my parents yelled at me, "GROW UP!" with sternness in their voices, a little "birdie" in my head, said, "NO!", and now, 70 years or so later, it's too late!  Oh, well..... maybe the next go-around will be different.

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