3 answers

How do you find inspiration for your next project?

Asked Hillsdale, Michigan

I want to go into biomedical engineering, and I am more on the biology/medicine side of it. I want to do research and invent products that can help others. How does one first think of an incredible idea??? #engineer #research #biomedical-engineering #biomedical-engineer #inventor

3 answers

Michael’s Answer

Updated Wilmington, Delaware

There is no single right answer to this question. It helps to develop a deep knowledge of the field, particularly clinical medicine. this can be obtained either directly ( as some folks with bioengineering training will decide to study medicine and become physician-scientists) others can do this indirectly by working with physicians and collaborating to understand what clinical problems still need to be solved. Then creativity and imagination are used to apply engineering knowledge to solve the clinical problem. Perhaps an example will help. A common medical problem is coronary artery disease, that is blockages in the arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood. As these arteries narrow they blood vessels can become damaged and blood clots can form, stopping blood flow to the heart muscle and this causes heart attacks a common medical problem. It became clear that if the artery can be opened up after it has suddenly closed blood flow can be restored and the heart muscle protected. People with bioengineering skill thought carefully about how to develop devices that could do this trick and over time developed thin plastic tubes ( catheters) which could be snaked through a blood vessel in the leg or arm ( almost like a plumbers tool) with a balloon on the end that could be inflated when the blockage was located and open it up. This is now a common treatment for heart attacks. It is also an example of how thinking carefully about a medical problem can lead to an engineering type solution and development of a new medical device.

Deborah’s Answer

Updated Burlington, Vermont

I'm a mechanical engineer working in Biomedical Engineering, working in R&D (research and development). The company I work for designs a device that enables the blind to see. I take the crazy goals for new products and make them possible (and where not, identify the constraints).

As an engineer on the ground floor I tend to solve a lot of the little detailed problems that enable the bigger ideas to be possible, and incrementally improve those designs. Those bigger research focuses are usually established at a company level. At my company, upper management and the chief engineers pick which type of retinal implant to develop, and for what market (population with a disease). Because of my exposure to the challenges of making the new item, I have a better understanding of what's possible and can propose features and concepts to help guide management before they make those big decisions.

When problems arise or when we need new ideas, we pull in our R&D team and brainstorm solutions--some traditional, and some really off the wall. My group is great at listening and evaluating all ideas, no matter how weird they initially sound. Team brainstorming is one of the key ways in which we quickly develop new concepts to try, and often strengthen your ideas into something feasible on your timeframe and budget. Never underestimate the power of brainstorming with knowledgeable friends.

As an engineer in any field, once you see enough problem-solution pairs, you can start to combine ideas and come up with some really wacky solutions, and bigger problems to solve. I like to mix up ideas involving traditional manufacturing with experience with origami, deployable space structures, and sewing. The key is finding a great company that will support your creativity and take interest in your ideas when you come up with those wacky concepts.

Ken’s Answer

Updated Cleveland, Ohio

Hi Carlie!

You asked a very important question. Here are some helpful hints:

http://internationaldsi.org/good-research-paper-topics-where-can-you-find-inspiration http://studentinspirationproject.org/ http://inspirationfeed.com/articles/design-articles/how-to-get-inspired-what-research-has-to-say/ http://www.columbia.edu/~drd28/Thesis%20Research.pdf

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