Creativity is a huge part of being an innovative engineer. Thinking outside of the box it what has allowed the human race to advance their science and technology to the levels that we see today. While there are a few exceptions most of the engineering courses taken to receive the final degree focus on building a foundation of knowledge. These classes are designed to give a future engineer a solid base to develop ideas from. Creativity is a difficult thing to teach because it comes to everyone in a different way. Here are a few things that I do to help me become more creative.
The biggest thing, at least for me, is that I keep an idea notebook. It is just a small composition notebook that usually remains in my backpack, but when ever I see something that is frustrating or looks like it could be improved I jot it down. This way I have a list of problems that need solving.
Another thing for me is staying in touch with the advancements in technology by reading science blogs and sometimes the journal articles that they refer to. This keeps me learning and stretching my mind into new areas. Some of these new ideas I can tie to the list of problems that need solving and then I can start designing as system that would solve this problem.
Practicing the creative process is one of the best ways to get better at it. By seeing a problem and then attempting to design a system, either as a thought exercise or on paper, more problems come up, which in turn need solving. By going through this process, solving problems, learning new things, applying these things to existing problems, new and innovative solutions arise.
This is the method that I use to come up with new ideas and inject creativity into my work. Please feel free to comment with methods that you use. Everyone’s mind works a little differently and there are so many different ways to find inspiration.