OILab, a new kind of creative environment where students with varied skillsets solve problems presented by industry partners
OILab director Margi Moore will further develop its innovation activities over the next few years as a problem-solving project
“We decided to start small to test our approaches, gain confidence and learn by doing,” she says.
Industry partners George Sante and Russell Morphin from rightware solutions challenged the students to come up with low-cost solutions to enable the remote monitoring of water supply networks. Paul says the experience was rewarding for the students, who put forward many smart solutions.
major challenges of the next decade
- Promoting green engineering to improve sustainability and reduce the carbon footprint in manufacturing
- Identifying viable alternative energy sources
- Rethinking how the city looks and works
- Safeguarding our personal data and wealth from cyberattacks.
- Addressing climate change through engineering innovation.
- Feeding our growing population through cutting-edge bio-engineering and agricultural innovations.
- Improving our health and well-being through life sciences, nanotechnology & bio-engineering.
students to identify a significant problem or challenge in their lives for which they can design a solution.
Here’s just a sample of what innovations we’ve seen in just the last few years:
We are successfully teaching cars and trucks how to drive themselves.
This is from step function inventions from machine learning and sensors
to help machines perceive the world around them through vision, sound and even touch.
This class of technology stands to revolutionize how we travel,
make and distribute goods, and analyze things faster and more accurately around us.
Solar and wind energy innovation is paying off, and recently helped power prices in Germany to go negative
This is only the beginning, as new ways of harnessing this energy are
becoming more efficient and cheaper, leading to a world where energy
production could be plentiful and decentralized.
Did you know we’re starting to completely cure cancer?
Bio-technology innovation in immunology in the last few years has yielded
several early treatments that have achieved complete remission after
reprogramming someone’s T-cells to attack their specific form of cancer.
This points to a future where, at diagnosis, a customized cancer treatment
could be designed for anyone with a high degree of success. This approach
could apply to all sorts of human diseases that have long evaded a cure.
Civilian use of drones has produced technology that could revolutionize every industry they touch.
Sure, it could start with same day delivery of packages to your house.
But applications in medicine (ambulance drones delivering a defibrillator
to a reported heart attack), disaster response, industrial safety and
diagnostics all aim at improving quality of service and our livelihoods.
We can now 3D print items from metal, glass and even create human-transplantable organs or tissue.
In time, this will lead to on-demand good manufacturing: household items, medicine, clothing and even food.
The future might look like a Star Trek episode with replicators making the
things we consume on demand with less waste and energy.
And if the above isn’t impressive enough, here’s one that will change everything. innovations
Quantum computers, capable of being 100 million times faster than today’s computers, are proven in a lab and trending towards commercialization in several years.
All of the innovations above could be dramatically enhanced or wildly more efficient from faster computing.
But even more, a lot of science is based on sample-driven simulations that
take a long time to model on today’s computers: climate predictions,
materials science for new batteries or superconductors, compound
discovery for medicines, etc.
Quantum computing could allow for full simulations of all of these things,
and unlock discoveries in days and years that would have otherwise taken
What’s even more interesting is the means to learn much of this and
practice it is proliferating around the world.
So however fast we’re innovations all these things, there’s a generation of
humans that will learn about them, invent more and build new economies
and systems from them at a rate we’ve not seen before.
Apparently, this is a simple question.
Unfortunately, innovation is highly misunderstood word. In Google search, innovation shows up as lightbulbs, with spark in them.Commonly, innovation is perceived as the creative spark in the mind of genius—giving the impression that only genius innovates . with spark in them.C
It’s also perceived as just a different way of doing thing.Here, I will address innovation from the perspective of taking an idea to market to generate profitable revenue.
From this perspective, innovation can take three major distinct forms:
- 1. Innovating new product,
- 2. Improving existing products, and
- 3. Improving the processes to make products.
The journey of taking a new product, usually around a new technology core, begins with a loss making revenue. Initially, the product shows up in a bit primitive from, and the cost is also high.
Turning this natural tendency of loss making revenue is a challenge.The journey then gets upgraded to continuously improving the underlyingtechnologies, adding new features, and also improving the existing ones.
The process of producing the product also become the subject of improvement. Objective of these improvements are basically to keep improving thequality and reducing the cost of subsequent versions, for turning the loss making revenue into profit.
Unfortunately, many innovation journeys fail in turning the loss making revenue to profit.
This has been the root cause of high start-up failure. Despite the great idea and charismatic leadership, Tesla has beenstruggling to reach profit, in taking the electric vehicle idea to market.
Once the innovative product starts showing the indication of making profit, followers show up. To counter this imitation force, the product is to be kept improving at a faster rate than followers can imitate.
Some of the imitators also graduate as innovators—succeeding in bringing better version. For example, Samsung entered the smartphone industry as imitator, but graduated as an innovator.
Dealing with this competition force is a serious challenge in succeeding with innovation.With the success of generating profitable revenue, innovation faces the challenge of substitution, with the threat of disruption.
To counter it, often the option is to switch the technology core. But when to switch becomes a question. Nokia’s failure to make such a switch led to catastrophic disasters. To succeed in innovation, it’s more than having creative ideas.
Here are some basic principles in articulating the journey of innovation in taking ideas to market at profit.
When you are faced with a challenging problem it is easy to throw your hands in the air and say it is all too hard, but here are some tips (not in any particular order) that might help you develop a problem solving mindset.
Work with others
Extra brains mean extra ideas. When we work with others we can discuss our ideas, understanding and challenges and gain the perspectives of other people.
‘Play with’ the problem
This means looking at the problem from different perspectives and considering lots of ideas, even if they seem ridiculous at first. This type of flexible thinking allows multiple solutions or ideas to be considered and can lead to innovative solutions.
Break the problem into smaller parts.
Sometimes a problem can seem overwhelming, so breaking it into smaller parts allows you to find a starting point and focus on one thing at a time. If you are working in a group, you might even be able to allocate parts to different people.
Don’t focus on getting the one ‘right answer’.
A problem may not have one ‘right’ answer. In fact there may be lots of solutions, so it is important to think about the process and not just the outcome.
Take your time to Analyse Problem
Unless it is an emergency, you should take your time when solving problems. Make sure that you really understand the problem before you jump right in to solve it. Check what resources you can use and maybe start to brainstorm some ideas (making notes can help) before you get started.
Be prepared to fail
Failure is not necessarily a bad thing. Often, we learn more when we fail at something than when we succeed. If one approach doesn’t work, think about why and then try something else. Persistence and reflection is key. Some very famous problems have been solved after many years of hard work and trial and error.
Here are some reasons which makes participating in Hackathons important:
1. Helps you think of creative solutions
Solve a real problem in limited amount of time, the constraint of time helps you think of creative solutions , though whatever your profile is. You can be a software engineer, a designer, a marketing person, a finance person etc.
2. Readily meet CEO, CTO of the different companies
You get awesome networking opportunities, readily meet CEO, CTO of the different companies. Making friends from different industries helps you in long run.
3. Get validation on ideas
You can get validation on ideas that comes up to you from variety of people (if you have plan to ever become a entrepreneur )
4. Hackathons make Profile stronger
By winning hackathons you profile becomes stronger. I bet you will get interview calls from big companies if you cross some number of hackathon wins.
5. Hackathons gives experience
By participating you get experience which is worth when you try to solve something in your work / personal projects or next hackathon.
6. Get informed about current market trends
You get informed about current market trends, openly available kickass api’s which makes it easy to think of new ideas.
7. Great Rewards by Hackathons
Good prize money . It ranges from 20K to 30L and more. Some international travelling opportunities as well
Free T-shirts :p and swag