Today we have Pete Smith, Principal Design Engineer with EG-GILERO with some thoughts on finding the problems to solve.
I have spent most of my working life designing products, first at IBM, designing computers and more recently it has been medical devices & drug delivery devices with EG-GILERO.
There has always been the typical product development process: present the problem that needs to be solved or an idea that needed to be refined, brainstorm, quickly come up with a neat solution and turn it into a commercial product.
Often these problems were ones I had no idea even existed, sometimes they were minor inconveniences, other times they were problems that literally could mean the difference between life and death. It was in finding a solution to one of the latter that I found myself thinking, if I just found a neat solution, in a matter of hours, for a problem that has likely caused much suffering ……how many more similar problems are out there that are never identified?
I had received an inkling of this situation when attending the Senior Projects presentation for my Daughters Bio-Medical Engineering class a few years ago. The teams of students had worked on all sorts of problems and sometimes had come up with really clever answers, but what struck me was, how on earth had no one fixed some of these years before, and that clever as the kids were, they lacked practical experience and were missing easy answers to some of the problems.
So how do we find out what needs done? Sometimes it’s easy. A large corporation comes to us with a problem that they don’t have the experience or the bandwidth to deal with, but they do have the funding to have us look at it. Other times, it’s a doctor or surgeon that has an idea to make their job easier and they want us to develop it further to the point that angels or venture capitalists will be interested in bringing to market. But what about all the problems that never come to the attention of a corporation or an entrepreneur minded doctor?
Yes, there must be a financial aspect to this, research and development isn’t cheap, nor is tooling, manufacturing, marketing etc. Some ideas will never see the light of day simply because of the cost, but it’s likely anything that saves significant time, makes a process simpler and more error free or that can give someone that little better chance to survive IS worth looking at to find a way to make it happen.
It’s possible, indeed probable, there are a lot of doctors, nurses, EMTs, lab technicians etc. who know that there should be a better way of doing something, but lack the drive, time and finances to do anything about it.
Identifying a problem, and telling the people who can find a solution, could be another way to make a difference.