Engineering innovation: lessons from history

David Payne (who came up with the Video: David Payne on the erbium-doped fiber amplifier – a key enabler of the World Wide Web) once said: ‘research is turning cash into ideas; but innovation is turning ideas into cash.’
By better understanding the factors affecting innovation, we can perhaps reverse the situation such as that once outlined by Bill Gates, where research into a cure for male pattern baldness attracts more funding than research into finding a cure for malaria.

Sounds frightfully familiar. Fair and Lovely, Fair and Handsome (never pale and anemic) get far more mileage than Dengue.

How to control the 'uncontrollable' innovation in useful channels?


Cogitate on Sir William Wakeham, senior vice president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, who argues that looking to our rich engineering past could help encourage business innovation today.

What do CEans feel?


  • Anoop Mathew
    Anoop Mathew
    Perhaps we need to look at things from a bigger perspective. We often narrow our minds to smaller 'necessities' that we often fail to realize the potential that some innovations can have at a larger scale. Time to revise our old texts and put our modern equipment to profound use. Hopefully, in time, the parts of the jicksaw puzzle will come together. *fingers crossed*
  • Shashank Moghe
    Shashank Moghe
    I cannot cite a lesson from history, but would like to do so for one from the very present. Elon Musk. I know the man is not an engineer (he moved on to pursue a bachelors in Physics from Stanford after a bachelors in economics), but one has to learn innovation from this person. I feel he is unbound by the traditional restrictions on what an individual can do, from PayPal to SpaceX to Tesla Motors, it is as if he picks a field and sets out to revolutionize it. This is an example, a very good one at that, of a true innovator.

    We, on the other hand, are academically designed to be innovators. If a man with just a strong conviction in his intelligence (and no engineering background) can work wonders, imagine what a motivated engineer can accomplish!

You are reading an archived discussion.

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