One Approach to Stimulate Engineering or Scientific Innovation – A Roving Eye

As I have review my engineering career I have come to appreciate that each new and seemingly unrelated mathematical or technical area that I mastered over the years has helped me to become more innovative.  Its rather common for individuals in a particular field to become comfortable with all the accepted concepts and theories.  I have found that getting out of that comfort zone with each new field I researched and applied I added another viewpoint that I could bring to bear on a technical or business challenge.  It is in that spirit that I have begun adding articles about new technologies or novel applications of known technologies to this blog.  In this case the following links cover two very different subjects and hopefully provide some insight into the innovation process.

As we biomedical engineers we know that tissue-material interfaces are very important to the success of implantables.  Artificial joints hold a number of challenges with their complex mechanical requirements.   Of note in the article below is the how pyrocarbon is getting increasing acceptance among orthopedic surgeons for joint replacement.  The particular mechanical attribute that caught my eye was the material’s ability within an appropriate design to match the mechanical properties of its organic counterpart and minimize stress shielding.  The example reinforces in my mind the concept of “impedance matching” where matching the electronic properties of  a component ( antenna, transmission lines, etc.)  to its mating environment ( air, space, input connector ) produces the best desired effect ( power transfer, reduced internal reflection,etc. ).  Not necessarily a direct correlation but a concept that can trigger innovation if it is remembered when attempting to solve an engineering or business challenge.  That is to say the reducing the impediments to energy transfer or idea transfer may be one of the keys to  a useful solution.  As a result of reading the link below I now have another resource which I can draw on to solve a future engineering challenge.

See Pyrocarbon and Pyrocarbon – Orthopedic Implants

Here is a more direct example about what I call having  a roving eye helps foster an investigative approach.  Apparently the principal researcher typically read only articles in his field and particularly his own labs articles in the field of cancer.  Anyone who has attempted to do research into the cancer field can attest to understanding why given the extremely wide range of topics in the field.  On this particular day, however, he decided to read the entire issue of a journal.  The results of that decision changed the direction of his research.  A wider scan of the field allowed him to learn a particular insight that raised a question that altered a research thrust.

See Do White Blood Cells Make Cancer Deadly


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