by Ty Hagler
I didn’t expect this to be so much fun, but competitive brainstorming is now a thing. It started last fall as I casually mentioned the score of ideas per person in 10 minutes that a Georgia Tech BioMedical Engineering class had posted before launching a Duke BioDesign session in October 2017. The Duke students took up the challenge and obliterated the Tech score, and a new game was born.
As part of our philanthropic mission, we regularly teach creative performance principles and workshops in a variety of educational settings. We also use the students as guinea pigs to try out new ideation techniques, with sometimes hilarious results.
The Duke BioDesign course (I&E 720) in the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative is taught by the amazing Joseph Knight, a Stanford BioDesign Fellow and CEO of InnAVasc. The group of graduate-level students represented engineering, management, and medical disciplines.
Oh, and did I mention they are competitive?
I was joined by Trig team members Ethan Creasman and Kelly Harrigan, though Kelly had video-conferenced in from Boston. After spending time talking about philosophies of industrial design and entrepreneurship, I shared our approach to ideation and introduced our standard case study: Preventing Anaphylaxis. Without giving away too many details of the case study, students are presented with predetermined need statements and challenge statements around the Epi-Pen market and then given 10 minutes to jot down as many ideas as possible using the digital ideation platform, Batterii.
Being competitively creative, some students figured out that we were counting ideas by total assets on the wall, so we later had to clean up about 20 blank sticky notes to arrive at a final score. Well played, but now we need to impose rules on the game.
The next day, Kelly led biomedical engineering undergraduate students at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, Mass through the same Preventing Anaphylaxis case study. With the motivation of beating Duke's record, the students quickly moved past the 'low-hanging fruit' that we often see to some really novel solutions. It mirrors a common practice for professional designers; when we shake out the initial, obvious ideas in our head and put them on the board, we create mental space for approaching the problem from a new angle.
The inaugural class of Wentworth's Bioengineering program is really setting the standard - their enthusiasm for divergent thinking made them our new reigning champ!
Do you think your team could top them? Let us know if you are up for the challenge!