I have no idea as to how many marvelous concepts started out as mere "gadgets". Designers, engineers, and "lay people" wanting to improve a situation or do serious "what-if" work that ultimately lead to devices, eventually commercialized, solving problems for millions. This might be up for discussion, but one Mr. T. Edison was possibly the greatest gadget freak of all time. I think Allied is to be commended for sponsoring such a great contest and I would hope they keep up the good work.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.