General Engineering Introduction/Brainstorm
BrainStorming is a group communication process. It is a documentation tool that can convince others that everything possible was thought of while making a group decision. Below are intangible comments that inspire and help keep the creative conversation going.
Brain Storming is not complete until there are multiple solutions. The best way is to not talk about solutions with each other, but silently go off alone and create solutions. Then come back together as a team, see who came up with the same idea. Other's ideas should spark more solutions in your own mind. So this process may be repeated. If done correctly there will be multiple solutions.
Einstein described his special abilities this way: "I have the talent of absorbing positive knowledge." All solutions are positive. Simplicity, Symmetry, Synchronicity are all concepts that engineers leverage.
There are times when duct tape, paper clips, pieces of a comb and wads of chewing gum are necessary. Creative, expedient solutions are necessary in times of a crisis. Tampons stop leaks. Solutions that don't scale, don't meet the scope or specifications, solutions that just get through the demonstration and then break are called "Kludgy."
Keep it Simple Stupid. The more complex something is, the less likely it is going to work. There is beauty in a 15 line program that does the same thing as a 2000 line program. A 15 line program can also be more beautiful than a tricky 1 line program doing the same thing because it is easy to understand, modify, and reuse.
There is beauty in a case that hasn't been opened for 15 years, yet upon opening it the instructions for making the adjustment are printed in an obvious spot.
Reduce to the Absurd
This is how engineers use the argument tatic "Reductio_ad_absurdum." Go to the extremes. Make the gaps bigger, make the angles larger or smaller. Change the timing. Follow the trends past normal operating points. List everything. The absurd can inspire.
James Eads competed with the Army Core of Engineering to come up with connecting the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. After a storm, the Mississippi was less than 8 feet deep, ships couldn't get to the ocean. Work on the New Orleans docks stopped. Dredging was not an option. The Army wanted to build a canal. Eads proposed building twin jetties that would force the river to dig its own channel by speeding the flow of water. Newspapers carried Eads arguments that his idea was more in "harmony with nature". The Army Core of Engineering argued that it would never work. The project took five years and was completed in 1879. Precisely as Eads had predicted, the current scoured its own bottom, pushing the silt far out into the deep Gulf waters.