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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In many engineering workplaces, there’s a generational conflict between recent engineering graduates and older, more experienced engineers. However, a recent study published in the psychology journal Cognition suggests that both may have something to learn from another group: 4 year olds.
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