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Best School for inventors?

  1. Jun 7, 2013 #1
    Hello,
    I currently attend a Association of Independent Technological Universities (AITU) school. I'm studying engineering. The school I am at is immensely test intensive-like extremely. I would like to know if there were any colleges you knew of with actual programs (or clubs) that help facilitate the inventing process?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 7, 2013 #2

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    I don't think you can teach inventing skills. An engineering education gives you the tools to analyze a problem and come up with a solution. Inventing is similar. You find something you don't like and find a way to make it better. If you find a better solution that no ones seen before the you could apply for a patent on your invention.

    Sometimes to invent you need to think outside of the box. Some examples are like using a credit card to open a door or using ping pong balls to float a sunken boat. You could check out DIY clubs and websites to see the inventions of other and the let your imagine go free.

    Think like MacGyver or Feynman both came up with unconventional solutions to problems. (Okay so MacGyver is fictional and his solutions were plot devices but you get the idea and after all hes a good guy and he's Canadian)
     
  4. Jun 7, 2013 #3

    berkeman

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I agree with jedishrfu. Inventing is a skill that you learn and nurture through projects and working toward being creative. You are not going to get that in some school's curriculum, unless it is an alternative whacko school, in which case you will not get the foundational learning that you need in order to turn ideas into reality.

    My best suggestion at this point would be to try to start your own "creative engineering" club at your current school. Research what has made inventors and creative thinkers be successful in the past, and talk in your club about how you-all can apply those things to your own project ideas. Look for helpful/inspirational inventive biographys like "Fire in the Valley" and other books about instrumental inventors in our times, and discuss them in your club. Build projects that interest you on your own time outside of school, and build your skills at the same time.

    Hope that helps. I've been down the same road that you would like to enter, and it is a very valuable and fun road. It takes work and motivation, but the personal satisfaction of seeing your inventions do very well in the market is heartwarming...
     
  5. Jun 7, 2013 #4

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    Another thing is that patentable inventions in general are small, simple and powerful. Grandiose designs dont cut it well.

    Some notable inventions that come to mind:
    - paper clip
    - safety pin
    - scissors
    - pliers

    One place where inventors fall down is in envisioning a device that cant be made. In one case, an inventor had an idea to make a PDA with a magic pen that could read calories from the food you eat to track your intake. He described the software, its ease of use but couldn't describe the magic of the pen that actually read the calories.

    If you think about it, how could the pen know what the calories were in food mixtures like vegetable stew with many ingredients. The invention fix was to keep the software but ditch the pen in favor of a scan code provided by the food vendor (on the menu). Scan it and now the software knows what food was served.

    So you have to look at these issues and figure a way around them.

    So look for things that bother you and think of a simple way to improve them. Don't like chopsticks when having soup reimagine them as straws... Everywhere you look you can find things that can be improved challenge your friends to an invention game, look around pick something and then both of you come up with an invention. The most practical one wins.
     
  6. Jun 9, 2013 #5

    chiro

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    Science Advisor

    Hey MathINTJ.

    Just like all human endeavors, people with similar interests involving inventing get together in various ways.

    Try and find an environment where this happens and see if you can get advice, mentoring, and some kind of collaboration for your own projects (now or the future).

    One good example is that of the founders of Apple computer (Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak) where they went to a computer club where people were showing off their inventions, talking about trends and technologies and so on.

    I'd advise you to do the same thing: it may be a bit harder nowadays especially for people working in big companies that have a thousand clauses regarding company knowledge, patents, trade secrets and what not, but you should be able to find some kind of organized gathering for your field somewhere.

    Its human nature to organize in any capacity and inventions/inventing are no exception.
     
  7. Jun 10, 2013 #6
    Well, while there may not be any local clubs I am sure you can find an internet forum somewhere dedicated to whatever it is you are interested in.
     
  8. Jun 10, 2013 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I am going to disagree. For centuries, MIT offered a course 2.70 (now 2.007) "Introduction to Design", taught by Woodie Flowers. This was essentially a class in inventing. Now taking one class in inventing doesn't make one an inventor any more than one class in math makes one a mathematician, but MIT - a school that considers the churning out of inventors to be part of its mission - believes that a class like this is a worthwhile thing to offer.
     
  9. Jun 10, 2013 #8

    Office_Shredder

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    Staff Emeritus
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    Gold Member

    Jeez, most people would have retired by now :p
     
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