Searching for innovation

Innovation is about finding a better way of doing something. Like many of the new development buzzwords (which many of them are over-used on many business documents), the concept of innovation originates from the world of business. It refers to the generation of new products through the process of creative entrepreneurship, putting it into production, and diffusing it more widely through increased sales. Innovation can be viewed as t he application of better solutions that meet new requirements, in-articulated needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments and society. The term innovation can be defined as something original and, as a consequence, new, that “breaks into” the market or society.

Innoveracy: Misunderstanding Innovation article points out that  there is a form of ignorance which seems to be universal: the inability to understand the concept and role of innovation. The way this is exhibited is in the misuse of the term and the inability to discern the difference between novelty, creation, invention and innovation. The result is a failure to understand the causes of success and failure in business and hence the conditions that lead to economic growth. The definition of innovation is easy to find but it seems to be hard to understand.  Here is a simple taxonomy of related activities that put innovation in context:

  • Novelty: Something new
  • Creation: Something new and valuable
  • Invention: Something new, having potential value through utility
  • Innovation: Something new and uniquely useful

The taxonomy is illustrated with the following diagram.

The differences are also evident in the mechanisms that exist to protect the works: Novelties are usually not protectable, Creations are protected by copyright or trademark, Inventions can be protected for a limited time through patents (or kept secret) and Innovations can be protected through market competition but are not defensible through legal means.

Innovation is a lot of talked about nowdays as essential to businesses to do. Is innovation essential for development work? article tells that innovation has become central to the way development organisations go about their work. In November 2011, Bill Gates told the G20 that innovation was the key to development. Donors increasingly stress innovation as a key condition for funding, and many civil society organisations emphasise that innovation is central to the work they do.

Some innovation ideas are pretty simple, and some are much more complicated and even sound crazy when heard first. The is place for crazy sounding ideas: venture capitalists are gravely concerned that the tech startups they’re investing in just aren’t crazy enough:


Not all development problems require new solutions, sometimes you just need to use old things in a slightly new way. Development innovations may involve devising technology (such as a nanotech water treatment kit), creating a new approach (such as microfinance), finding a better way of delivering public services (such as one-stop egovernment service centres), identifying ways of working with communities (such as participation), or generating a management technique (such as organisation learning).

Theorists of innovation identify innovation itself as a brief moment of creativity, to be followed by the main routine work of producing and selling the innovation. When it comes to development, things are more complicated. Innovation needs to be viewed as tool, not master. Innovation is a process, not a one time event. Genuine innovation is valuable but rare.

There are many views on the innovation and innvation process. I try to collect together there some views I have found on-line. Hopefully they help you more than confuze. Managing complexity and reducing risk article has this drawing which I think pretty well describes innovation as done in product development:

8 essential practices of successful innovation from The Innovator’s Way shows essential practices in innovation process. Those practices are all integrated into a non-sequential, coherent whole and style in the person of the innovator.

In the IT work there is lots of work where a little thinking can be a source of innovation. Automating IT processes can be a huge time saver or it can fail depending on situation. XKCD comic strip Automation as illustrates this:

XKCD Automation

System integration is a critical element in project design article has an interesting project cost influence graphic. The recommendation is to involve a system integrator early in project design to help ensure high-quality projects that satisfy project requirements. Of course this article tries to market system integration services, but has also valid points to consider.

Core Contributor Loop (CTTDC) from Art Journal blog posting Blog Is The New Black tries to link inventing an idea to theory of entrepreneurship. It is essential to tune the engine by making improvements in product, marketing, code, design and operations.






  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Intel is spending more and more money on research

    Intel’s processor manufacturer consumes more money than R & D for research and product development than the next four largest investors.

    According to IC Insights, Intel spent $ 13.1 billion last year on research, or 21.2 percent of its net sales. The amount grew by three per cent on the previous year. In 2000, Intel’s R & D investments accounted for 16 percent of net sales, so the sum is growing in both relative and absolute terms.

    Qualcomm is the second largest investor in research, as it has done since 2012. Last year, the sum was $ 3.45 billion, which is 4 percent less than in the previous year.

    Samsung last year saw $ 3.41 billion, which is 19 percent more than in the previous year. Samsung’s research could be called “Efficiency” as it was the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer last year.

    In total, semiconductor companies spent $ 58.9 billion last year on research. $ 35.9 billion was the largest investment in the 10 largest companies.


  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    NSB Warns Global Competitiveness in Jeopardy Without a Stronger STEM Workforce

    The National Science Board (NSB, Board) released its policy companion statement to Science and Engineering Indicators 2018, “Our nation’s future competitiveness relies on building a STEM-capable U.S. workforce.”

    The NSB’s statement underscores the Board’s view that growing the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce is essential for our economy and global competitiveness. It offers recommendations for strengthening a diverse STEM-capable U.S. workforce inclusive of all levels of education.

    “STEM knowledge and skills are vital for our nation’s businesses to compete in today’s world, and for bringing better jobs and greater prosperity to every region of our country,” said Victor McCrary, NSB member and vice president for Research and Economic Development at Morgan State University. “Businesses large and small across the U.S. need adaptable, STEM-capable workers at every education level and from all demographic groups in order to be competitive. Creating a strong, diverse STEM-ready workforce is essential to economic and social prosperity, and we all have a role to play in this critical effort.”

    Despite an uptick in four-year-degree science and engineering graduates over the past near two decades, it pales in comparison to the STEM-capable workforce in China.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Jacob Silverman / New Republic:
    How the awkward fusion of market values and vague humanitarianism defining Silicon Valley ideology stems from a 1960s generational shift to commercialization — On January 26, 2008, Joseph Weizenbaum, a famed and dissident computer scientist in his eighties, ascended the dais in Davos …

    Silicon Valley’s Origin Story
    The generational shift that made tech companies a cultural and political force

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Better Living Through Microelectronics

    From energy harvesting to prosthetics, semiconductor technologies have the potential to improve the human condition.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The dos and don’ts of crafting frontier-tech companies

    Powerful tools, amazing talent and endless dollars flowing from eager investors makes today an amazing time to start tomorrow’s technology companies. Curious and ambitious founding teams are putting their skills to work toward solving real-world problems

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Organizing for innovation

    These days, innovation rules. Nearly every organization is seeking better and faster ways to generate new ideas to keep them on the cutting edge. But the era of digital transformation we live in is also one filled with disruption. Your entire business, or entire market, could change overnight—maybe by something you never even saw coming.

    The reality is you can’t plan your way around disruption. You can’t predict the future because, thanks to digital transformation, the speed of change and innovation is moving faster than ever. In the world we live in today, in most contexts, planning specific execution steps is dead. It’s too slow, it’s too fraught with errors and it’s too limited in perspective to be an effective tool in driving action. In other words, by the time you can make a plan, it’s obsolete. Rather than spending time to develop strategies and execution plans for what we can’t predict, it has become more important to equip our organizations with the right skills to be successful amid rapid change and volatility. Disruption is coming for you no matter what—and sooner than you could ever imagine.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Vatican Hosts a Hackathon

    In recent years, organizations have used hackathons to find code-enabled solutions for everything from the opioid crisis to gerrymandering. It’s hard to imagine a field where a hack day hasn’t been utilized to solve one problem or another. But tomorrow a group of budding entrepreneurs, developers, and technologists will be making hackathon history: participating in the first-ever codefest in Vatican City.

    The event, VHacks, is bringing together 120 students for a 36-hour hackathon aimed at finding technological solutions for three global issues the Catholic Church hopes to address: social inclusion, interfaith dialogue, and assistance for migrants and refugees.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Vatican hosts first hackathon to tackle global issues

    Three-day event will focus on social inclusion, migrants and refugees and interfaith dialogue

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Birth of Silicon Valley: Radio Leads the Way

    Long before computing, Bay Area engineers and hobbyists were transforming communications

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Missions could make Europe cool again – Prof. Mariana Mazzucato

    Missions modelled on the 1960s ‘moonshot’ programme to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade could help make Europe a cool place to do business and unite the public behind European science and innovation, according to Professor Mariana Mazzucato

    The idea of arranging Europe’s research and innovation funding around missions is being discussed as part of the preparations for the EU’s next funding programme after Horizon 2020. Could you explain what a mission is?

    ‘(It’s) using innovation to address a challenge by solving a problem. The bold, important problems – big societal objectives that are going to matter across Europe. These problems are more social and wicked than going to the moon which was mainly a technical feat.’

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Time for ‘Open Innovation,’ Not Just Open Source
    Harnessing vision and creativity

    Embedded open source software not only works; most our world runs on it today. That said, the real story is open innovation, of which open source licenses are simply one part.

    We can all agree that open source revolutionized the software industry. The effect has been profound on every segment from enterprise software to search and social networking. But it wasn’t always that way. The late Jim Ready, founding father of embedded open source software, told me once that his early prospects told him that open source wouldn’t fly because they wouldn’t trust their code to a bunch of teenagers in some far-off part of the world.

    Well, guess what? Embedded open source software not only works; most our world runs on it today.

    That said, the real story is open innovation, of which open source licenses are simply one part. Open innovation means looking outside traditional corporate silos to harness the collective knowledge of a global community of developers and using that community to create new and transformative things. Open innovation in software is enabled by many things: GitHub, app stores and crowdsourcing platforms like Topcoder (founded by our investor and director Jack Hughes) being just a few. Once enabled, though, the innovation potential of this crowd is mind boggling.

    In many ways, hardware is now adopting the principles of open innovation. Maker Fairs are remarkable and visible manifestations of human creativity with participants of all ages and backgrounds. Hackathons are commonplace and innovative platforms such as are doing great things. That said, hardware is in the infancy of embracing the power of community to commercialize product. And semiconductors are still in the dark ages in this regard, with only the first rays of light shining on an alternative path forward.

    Let’s view this open innovation dilemma and opportunity from the top down.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google’s New ‘Plus Codes’ Are An Open Source, Global Alternative To Street Addresses

    Google has developed a “simple and consistent addressing system that works across India and globally.” Called “Plus Codes,” the location-based digital addressing system is designed for people with addresses that are not easily located through conventional descriptors like street names or house numbers. That’s half of the world’s urban population, according to a World Bank estimate.

    Google’s ‘Plus Codes’ are an open source, global alternative to street addresses

    Google frequently touts that the “next billion users” will come from developing nations with different focuses and needs. To that end, the company has developed a number of optimized services, with one being a “simple and consistent addressing system that works across India and globally.

    Google created “Plus Codes” for addresses that are not easily located through conventional descriptors like street names or house numbers. In fact, according to a World Bank estimate, half of the world’s urban population lives on unnamed streets.

    Plus codes, also known as Open Location Code, were first developed by Google in 2015.

    Notably, this open source solution composed of 10 characters works globally and can be incorporated by other products and platforms for free, with a developer page

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:


    MORE THAN TWO years after a Wall Street Journal investigation exposed potential fraud at blood-testing startup Theranos, many of us have forgotten about the company. The Securities and Exchange Commission has not.

    Wednesday, the regulatory agency charged CEO Elizabeth Holmes and former President Ramesh Balwani with an “elaborate, years-long fraud in which they exaggerated or made false statements about the company’s technology, business, and financial performance.” As a result of the SEC’s charges, Holmes has agreed to reduce her equity stake and voting control in the company. She’s also agreed to a 10-year ban on working at public companies.

    More significant than the news is the message it’s meant to send to all Silicon Valley startups—not just those whose photogenic CEOs land on magazine covers.

    “The Theranos story is an important lesson for Silicon Valley,” said Jina Choi, director of the SEC’s San Francisco Regional Office, in a statement. “Innovators who seek to revolutionize and disrupt an industry must tell investors the truth about what their technology can do today, not just what they hope it might do someday.”

    The scale of Theranos’ alleged fraud is unusual, but the forces behind it are not. Startup culture venerates the kind of “fake it till you make it” hustling that Holmes deployed.

    Historically, the startup world’s “fake it till you make it” culture wasn’t a much of a problem; venture investors encouraged startup founders to think big and a high percentage of them fail anyway. So what if someone stretches the truth a little in pursuit of world domination? The nature of technology requires a degree of magical thinking to function. As I wrote in 2016, even the most well-intentioned startup founders have to persuade investors, engineers, and customers to believe in a future where their totally made-up idea will be real:

    “That’s not ‘My cola tastes better than yours.’ That’s ‘Let me explain to you how the world’s going to be,’”

    But now, in the so-called “age of unicorns,” startups can raise large sums of capital from private investors and become sizable businesses without the scrutiny, onerous disclosures, and strict regulatory compliance of being a public company.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Digital innovation can enhance cultural heritage, hears conference

    Digitalisation has a role to play in the conservation and promotion of modern-day cultural heritage but should enhance real-life experiences, rather than replace them, experts say.

    The Innovation and Cultural Heritage conference, held in Brussels on 20 March 2018, brought together a diverse range of researchers from the fields of science, technology, archaeology, social sciences and humanities, where they showcased their interdisciplinary work in this arena.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Looking For The Elephant In The Valley

    Female role models doing exceptional things in tech have always existed. Hopefully future generations will believe that STEM is gender neutral.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Firms Need Engineers, But Resist Paying More to Get Them

    The engineering job market is tight. But many companies are somewhat unrealistic about the importance of offering a competitive salary, which isn’t going to get them top talent.

    Angie Keller | Mar 07, 2018

    It’s probably no surprise that the job outlook for engineers is positive. In a January Bureau of Labor Statistics report, employment in the electrical and electronics space is expected to grow seven percent by the year 2026.

    To capitalize on the country’s economic growth, organizations are expanding and looking for more workers to fill traditional roles in addition to new and emerging positions. As such, the engineering market is experiencing a lower unemployment rate compared to the national average, with tens of thousands of jobs expected to be added in the next five years.

    At Randstad, we see demand rising for a diversity of engineering skill sets, where competition for candidates is getting fierce:

    ● Validation Engineers: While the overall job outlook for validation engineers has struggled in past years, demand for them is growing. In fact, the projected total employment for validation engineers is expected to top 194,000 in 2018.

    ● Controls Engineers: As automation gains traction in manufacturing and beyond, controls engineers are increasingly in demand.

    ● Robotics Engineers: In a recent poll, 81 percent of senior executives surveyed cited robotics as one of the top five industrial sectors that will hire new workers through the end of this decade.

    ● Embedded Engineers: Increased demand by consumers and businesses for more connectivity and smarter, more power-efficient electronic technology is driving the demand for embedded systems engineers. Especially sought out are embedded developers with not only the required coding expertise, but also a deep understanding of how software and hardware interact and communicate.

    Almost across the board, it is proving extremely difficult for companies to fill open engineering positions today. HR decision makers report the average time to fill a non-executive position is 2.6 months and five months or more to find leadership and executive talent

    A key challenge: Many companies are somewhat unrealistic about the importance of offering a competitive salary

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A lifetime designing PCBs: A new beginning–A-new-beginning

    Lessons learned

    Throughout this series of articles, I’ve written about lessons learned. Here is a list of what I believe are the most significant ones:

    Respect – When starting a new job, the most important thing to do is earn the respect of coworkers. This requires listening, and understanding their perspective and motivations.

    Writing specs – Documenting innovative ideas by choosing precise wording, creating meticulous images, and adding humor, make the specs convincing, clear, and engaging.

    Management – My boss said, “My most important role is to remove the obstacles preventing you from becoming successful.” That was a mic-drop moment.

    Teamwork – Whether designing a board or implementing software, enabling team members to contribute their talents along with my own defines the line between success and failure.

    Knowledge – Signal speeds and manufacturing technology are continually evolving. Designers who learn the problems and participate in creating solutions will be the industry leaders of the future.

    Designer frustration – The best way to keep designers content with their software design tools is to address the problems and limitations that frustrate them.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Amazon spent nearly $23 billion on R&D last year — more than any other U.S. company
    Tech companies claimed the top five spots again this year.

    Tech companies claimed the top five spots in the U.S. for research and development spending again last year, investing a combined total of $76 billion. Amazon was at the top of the list, spending $22.6 billion in 2017, 41 percent more than in 2016 (when it also topped the list).

    Amazon has poured resources into AWS, Alexa and technologies like computer vision to support ambitious projects such as the Amazon Go cashierless store of the future. Amazon has also recently been the target of President Trump’s Twitter attacks accusing the company of not paying its share of taxes and for exploiting the U.S. Postal Service.

    R&D spending is important not only as it contributes to a company’s own innovation and dominance, but also for its contribution to national productivity, accounting for about 3 percent of the GDP.

    Amazon is followed in R&D spending by Alphabet, Intel, Microsoft and Apple.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Chris O’Brien / VentureBeat:
    EU announces VentureEU, a $2.6B fund-of-funds program, with six funds to invest in VCs focused on areas like digital services, medical technologies, and energy — Hoping to give Europe’s surging startup ecosystem a shot of adrenaline, the European Union today announced the creation of a massive …

    EU wants to pump $2.6 billion into Europe’s VC funds to close investment gap with U.S.

    Hoping to give Europe’s surging startup ecosystem a shot of adrenaline, the European Union today announced the creation of a massive new fund-of-funds program dubbed VentureEU.

    So far, the EU has committed $505 million of its own budget to the project, which now faces the challenge of raising the balance of the $2.6 billion fund from private investors.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Chris O’Brien / VentureBeat:
    EU announces VentureEU, a $2.6B fund-of-funds program, with six funds to invest in VCs focused on areas like digital services, medical technologies, and energy

    EU wants to pump $2.6 billion into Europe’s VC funds to close investment gap with U.S.

    Hoping to give Europe’s surging startup ecosystem a shot of adrenaline, the European Union today announced the creation of a massive new fund-of-funds program dubbed VentureEU.

    So far, the EU has committed $505 million of its own budget to the project, which now faces the challenge of raising the balance of the $2.6 billion fund from private investors.

    The program is at once a massive undertaking and an indication of the huge challenges Europe faces as it seeks to turbocharge its startup economy.

    Indeed, Europe has become adept at helping entrepreneurs launch their startups, but many still migrate elsewhere as they seek later-stage funding. Or they simply get stymied in their attempts to scale across Europe.

    And despite the EU’s good intentions, the unveiling was a reminder of the limitations it faces as it seeks to shift funding dynamics across the region.

    “The European tech sector identifies AI and blockchain as the areas where Europe is best positioned to play a leading role,” he said, during a speech at Digital Day. “However, it is no secret that we have to invest — both politically and financially. There is quite some ground to catch up. Other continents are moving ahead quickly.”

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Is it Time for Quantum Computing Startups? Maybe
    IBM aims to boost quantum computing startups, but warns of a “long revenue desert”

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Trade war or not, China is closing the gap on U.S. in technology IP race

    China’s rising investment in research and expansion of its higher education system mean that it is fast closing the gap with the United States in intellectual property and the struggle to be the No.1 global technology power, according to patent experts.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    About When Not to Do Microservices

    “Microservices architecture is not appropriate all the time”.

    Let me expand a little bit.

    Doing microservices, or monoliths, or SOA, or Microliths or whatever fancy term gets bandied about at present is not the point. Businesses ideally will be looking for [new] ways to deliver customer value and technology can be a differentiator. The key problem we face as we journey down this path of “deliver value” is actually quite simple: uncertainty. We literally do not know what will deliver value. Customers are also poor at articulating it. We have lots of ideas, good ideas sometimes, but we don’t actually know the what to deliver customer value until we experiment and try.

    66% of the “good ideas” people have actually have zero impact (or even worse)

    The folks who are able to run cheap experiments, run lots of them, and learn what brings value to customers faster than their competitors are going to win.

    If you’re the Pioneers, stick with monoliths.
    As pioneers, you have to move quickly. You have zero ideas whether a “thing” will bring value. You want to run cheap experiments as quickly as possible and learn. You may not even be writing any code!

    the most inefficient way to test a hypothesis is to build it out completely. In his story, he talks about reducing uncertainty by coming up with a hypothesis like “people who take pictures of wine probably might want to buy that wine” and coming up with cheap experiments to test that hypothesis.

    Running lots of these small experiments don’t require building out a complete product and absolutely reduces the uncertainty in your idea. You may, at some point, come to a point where you build a Minimum Viable Product. But again, the point of the MVP is to test a hypothesis and elicit learning. An MVP is not product engineering. You’re not building this for scale. In fact, you’re doing the opposite. You’re probably going to be running MANY MVP tests and throwing them away. A monolith is a perfect way to attack this. A monolith will actually allow you to go faster because changing things quickly can be done all in a single place.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tech Tackles Health Care

    Academia, startups and technology giants are addressing health care through collaboration, creativity, and tremendous compute power.

    Can technology make humans healthier? If technology investments in this market are any indication, the answer is a firm “yes.”

    Massive growth in this market has been predicted for years. In fact, it was the initial driver behind many of the initial IoT devices, which fizzled largely because of insufficiently developed end applications and poor battery life of wearable devices. Much has changed since then, and it’s reflected in the most recent market projections.

    Worldwide, the health-care market will grow 4.82% this year to almost $2 trillion, Frost & Sullivan forecasts. Technology’s share in that market will increase. The research firm predicts the global market for health-care cloud computing will be worth nearly $10 billion by 2021 and by 2025, 10% of hospitals around the world will be “smart” facilities, investing more than $11 billion in cloud-based computing and data analytics.

    “Even though 2017 was a year full of spectacular advancements in health care, 2018 will be the year of digital health technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Medical Things, big data analytics, and robotics,” said Kamaljit Behera, industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan, in a statement.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
    - Peter Drucker

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Building a Tech Nation

    In his final letter as publisher of ASPENCORE, Victor Gao reflects on a recent dinner with IEEE Fellow and former Portuguese Secretary of State for Education Jose Franca, and together, they revisit a shared passion: How does a nation remake itself into a technology powerhouse?

    But Franca, founder of analog semiconductor design firm Chipidea, is no casual observer of Portugal’s national development. “Much of the buzz we hear these days about Portugal’s bourgeoning tech scene is, of course, wonderful, but we run the risk of believing our own hype and not doing enough to ensure early progress takes root and sprouts future progress.”

    Case in point: Web Summit, deemed “the best tech conference on the planet” by Forbes Magazine and coined “Davos for geeks” by Bloomberg, moved to Lisbon two years ago and has drawn such A-list speakers

    But more important than talent drain, the absence of a strong engineering base means that a country would remain stuck as a net user of technology rather than producer. It means that the country would be absent at the table where future technology standards are set, supply chains shaped, and long-lasting structural advantages concretized. Indeed, much of world history proves that, over the long run, not only are producer nations principal drivers of economic growth, they also reap most of the rewards.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Opening up open innovation!

    Introducing Open Innovation Meetups to encourage open innovation approach in technology projects

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New York Times:
    How the Chinese government, long suspicious of internet companies, is now keen on harnessing tech companies’ capital and knowledge to realize its goals — The government in China, long suspicious of internet companies, now sees ambitious titans like Tencent and Alibaba as useful partners.

    Tech Giants Feel the Squeeze as Xi Jinping Tightens His Grip

    The government in China, long suspicious of internet companies, now sees ambitious titans like Tencent and Alibaba as useful partners.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Toward Project-Based Learning
    The value of student-centered instruction over an extended period of time.

    Project-based learning is one of the most frequently referenced learning models in engineering education. Since the 1990s, it has been an important movement in ensuring that students are building the correct expertise throughout the engineering curriculum by applying theory through hands-on activities.

    Engineering education has transitioned from a focus on the practice of engineering (designing to code and with well-defined procedures) to the engineering sciences (fundamental understanding of phenomena). There’s been a growing need to build an active, experiential-based exposure to engineering concepts.

    The key to effective project-based learning is translating concepts to practice while simultaneously promoting technical skill development alongside soft skills like teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving that are becoming more critical in modern engineering positions. It inherently ties to relevance and helps students understand the impact of their work.

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Being Creative Increases Your Risk Of Schizophrenia By 90 Percent

    From van Gogh and Beethoven to Darwin and Plath, the number of creative geniuses that have suffered from mental health issues has long sparked the debate – is there a tie between creativity and mental health? Well, according to a new study published in The British Journal of Psychiatry there is, as creatives are more likely to suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression than the rest of the population.

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    OnScale: Driving 5G Innovation

    We all want 5G smartphones that can live stream high-definition selfies, 5G augmented reality gear or 5G drones that can broadcast 4K video from anywhere on the planet.

    We all want 5G smartphones that can live stream high-definition selfies, 5G augmented reality gear or 5G drones that can broadcast 4K video from anywhere on the planet. But analysts say 5G devices aren’t coming any time soon. Let’s take a deeper look at why.

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    William Wilkes / Wall Street Journal:
    How automation is leading to job growth in certain industries where robots take on repetitive tasks, freeing humans for more creative, problem-solving duties

    How the World’s Biggest Companies Are Fine-Tuning the Robot Revolution

    Automation is leading to job growth in certain industries where machines take on repetitive tasks, freeing humans for more creative duties

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Reworking the gender balance in the AI, IoT industries

    Women in STEM: Bringing more women into the artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) industries can help reduce some of the ingrained bias in developing these technologies and concepts.

    Re•Work’s third Women in AI dinner was held in London in February 2018. This regular networking event celebrates women in artificial intelligence (AI) and showcases their achievements. Although the speakers are women, these are not women-only events. This is important, because diversity is about inclusivity, not segregation.

    There are not enough women working in tech, let alone in AI. In the UK, for example, 83% of people working in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers are men, according to figures presented at UK Robotics Week 2017. It has been reported that less than 10% of coders are women, despite Ada Lovelace being widely considered to be the first computer programmer.

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Technology innovation on the second half of the chessboard

    The speed and magnitude with which technology innovation is moving is mind-boggling, even for those of us who have worked at the center of it for decades. Staid industries for which technology seemed irrelevant are transforming themselves or being disrupted by the Connected World, innovation made possible by the confluence of cloud, mobile, sensor and artificial intelligent technologies. McKinsey has noted that the internet-impacted industries represent 15 percent of our economy. The Internet of Things will impact the rest with a potential economic impact of $11 trillion by 2025.

    Technology innovation is now a global village. China has moved from a technology laggard to fast follower to leader within the span of two decades. This year, venture investment in China is likely to surpass U.S. venture investment for the first time. Europe is producing cutting edge technology and companies

    Venture investors in Silicon Valley used to apply the bridge rule: If an investment involved crossing a bridge, then it was out of scope. Now many of us apply the two-flight rule: Any investment is fair game if it can be reached within two flights.

    First, they note that innovation is accelerating as we approach the “second half of the chessboard.” This analogy applies a parable to Moore’s Law.

    The range of possible innovations for aspiring entrepreneurs are broader than they have ever been.

    Moore’s “Law” is merely a guideline, yet it has proven to be reliable over the past 50 years, and experts indicate it is likely to persist for another 10-15 years

    Until recently, the implications of Moore’s Law have been predictable.

    As we project forward, implanted devices, self-healing operations and autonomous vehicles seem imminent.

    But as compute power far exceeds human capacity, it is increasingly difficult to apprehend the future implications of Moore’s Law. Much as with the emperor and inventor, the acceleration of innovations and magnitude of change puts us in promising but murkier territory as we enter the second half of the chessboard.

    The publishing industry for books and newspapers was the most obvious application of the internet, yet it took well over a decade for our reading habits and the industry to adjust. Many would say this is still a work in progress. The financial industry is fundamentally a digital business, yet many practices remain entrenched: cash and credit card-based payments are but one example.
    The auto sector is just beginning to grapple with myriad new technologies.

    So two innovation trends are coinciding. Increases in compute power empower artificial intelligence, smart sensors and edge computing for the first time. Meanwhile, many industries are grappling to adopt technology available in the market for decades. The range of possible innovations for aspiring entrepreneurs are broader than they have ever been.

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    In Silicon Valley, Chinese ‘accelerators’ aim to bring startups home

    NEW YORK/ SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Beijing’s unslakeable thirst for the latest technology has spurred a proliferation of “accelerators” in Silicon Valley that aim to identify promising startups and bring them to China.

    Officials at several China-backed accelerators told Reuters their goal was to help startups gain access to the China market and nurture relationships between entrepreneurs and investors in both countries.

    “We are building the door or bridge to the China market,”

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How China acquires ‘the crown jewels’ of U.S. technology

    The U.S. fails to adequately police foreign deals for next-generation software that powers the military and American economic strength.

    The U.S. government was well aware of China’s aggressive strategy of leveraging private investors to buy up the latest American technology when, early last year, a company called Avatar Integrated Systems showed up at a bankruptcy court in Delaware hoping to buy the California chip-designer ATop Tech.

    ATop’s product was potentially groundbreaking — an automated designer capable of making microchips that could power anything from smartphones to high-tech weapons systems. It’s the type of product that a U.S. government report had recently cited as “critical to defense systems and U.S. military strength.” And the source of the money behind the buyer, Avatar, was an eye-opener: Its board chairman and sole officer was a Chinese steel magnate whose Hong Kong-based company was a major shareholder.

    Despite those factors, the transaction went through without an assessment by the U.S. government committee

    In fact, a six-month POLITICO investigation found that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the main vehicle for protecting American technology from foreign governments, rarely polices the various new avenues Chinese nationals use to secure access to American technology, such as bankruptcy courts or the foreign venture capital firms that bankroll U.S. tech startups.

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The first jobs of great contemporary engineers

    While past performance is no guarantee of future results, when it comes to mapping the future, it’s the only compass we have. I asked several electrical engineering luminaries about their first jobs and the impact of those jobs on their future career choices and performance.

  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Home> Community > Blogs > Measure of Things
    Reduce your prejudice to innovation

    NIH is prejudice against ideas that were not invented here. Every team, every group, every company faces NIH to some degree and engineers and scientists are among the worst NIH practitioners. We’re so damned smart that we think we know everything already—and we’ve proven ourselves right often enough that most of us nearly believe it.

    Consider the latest innovation from your competitor.

    Because faster processing for the predator means better eating, all species have to confront…

    The consultant’s dilemma: You can have it good, fast, or cheap—pick two.
    Natural selection chose fast and cheap

    Prejudice: the ultimate form of laziness
    To innovate, to unleash our creativity so that we can introduce something new, novel and effective, something that doesn’t honestly fit into one of our pre-existing categories of ideas, we have to reduce our idea prejudice. To reduce our idea prejudice we have to reduce both types of inhibitory impulses.

    By practicing vigilance, we can learn to catch ourselves when we deliberately inhibit an idea. Then we can back off and consider it, even if it’s NIH, try it on, feel it out and in many cases find something useful, a piece to a puzzle we didn’t even know existed and put it to work. Since we can’t possibly turn off all of our inhibitory neurons, signal to noise won’t be a problem for ideas that manage to percolate up into consciousness.

  39. Tomi Engdahl says:

    MechEng is confusing

    Designing a six-pole 2 dB Chebyshev lowpass, coding an HDL block, or writing some cycle-pinching real-time assembler—all tasks I can confidently execute. Tightening a screw just so? Not so much.

    How far we can stretch our skillsets?

    On the one hand, EEs have, in large companies at least, become very specialized. Members of IC design teams tend to focus on very narrow pieces of the puzzle. Cellphone companies have desense engineers, whose sole function is to make sure the RF receivers aren’t swamped (desensitized) by all the other electronics packed into close proximity.

    On the other hand, in smaller companies, we sometimes need to wear many hats, including ones we’ve never worn before, and which may not even fit at first.



  40. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ben Thompson / Stratechery:
    Microsoft had to acquire GitHub to attract developers because it lacks a mobile platform with enough users and its cloud strategy hinges on corporate customers

    The Cost of Developers

    Yesterday saw three developer-related announcements, two from Apple, and one from Microsoft. The former came as part of Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference keynote:

    The iOS App Store, which turns 10 next month, serves 500 million weekly visitors, and as of later this week will have earned developers over $100 billion.
    Sometime next year developers will be able to write apps for the Mac using iOS user interface frameworks (known as UIKit).

    Microsoft, meanwhile, for the second time in three years, outshone Apple’s keynote with a massive acquisition.

    “Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced it has reached an agreement to acquire GitHub, the world’s leading software development platform where more than 28 million developers learn, share and collaborate to create the future.”

    Platform-Developer Symbiosis

    Over the last few weeks, particularly in The Bill Gates Line, I have been exploring the differences between aggregators and platforms; while aggregators generally harvest already produced content or goods, developers leverage the platform to create something entirely new.

    This results in a symbiosis between developers and platforms: from a technical perspective, platforms provide the fundamental building blocks (i.e. application program interfaces, or APIs) necessary for developers to build new experiences, and from a marketing perspective, those new experiences give customers a reason to buy the platform in the first place, or to upgrade.

  41. Tomi Engdahl says:

    There Are More Jobs Than People Out of Work, Something the American Economy Has Never Experienced Before

    The jobs market has reached what should be some kind of inflection point: there are now more openings than there are workers.

    April marked the second month in a row this historic event has occurred, and the gap is growing. According to the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey released this week, there were just shy of 6.7 million open positions in April, the most recent month for which data are available.

    This year is the first time the level of the unemployed exceeded the jobs available since the BLS started tracking JOLTS numbers in 2000.

    Under normal circumstances, the mismatch would be creating a demand for higher wages. However, average hourly earnings rose just 2.7 percent annualized in May, up one-tenth of a point from April.

    There are more jobs than people out of work, something the American economy has never experienced before

    There are 6.7 million job openings and just 6.4 million available workers to fill them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    April marked the second month in a row that there were more vacancies than available hires, a phenomenon that had not happened before 2018.
    Despite the mismatch, sizeable wage gains remain elusive, with average hourly earnings up just 2.7 percent over the past year.


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