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Creativity And Machine Design Essay

3267 words - 14 pages

Creativity and Machine Design

Robots and machines have become very prevalent within recent years. We use robots to assemble cars, explore dangerous areas, and even as servants to clean our houses. In the future, we might even see robots help in delicate complex tasks like performing surgery. Many people think that the process that goes behind designing a robot is unimaginative, involving a lot of dull equations and assembly lines. In reality, the design process can be very creative.

While the process behind designing a machine is creative, it should be noted though that eventually engineers were going to design robots to perform these tasks. Leonardo Da Vinci sketched early ideas ...view middle of the document...

007, teaches the entire design process. The class is also a contest in which the students' machines compete on a large obstacle ridden table. Each round is only forty-seconds long. Each machine must be under the ten pound weight requirement and under the size constraints. The students are only given a limited amount of materials to construct their machine. The course tries to combine the creativity aspect of machine design with the precise nature of engineering. When first starting to work on the problem, the students usually come up with a large number of underdeveloped ideas. In order to organize and develop our ideas, we are taught to follow the provided design process. In the very beginning, the students are told to only think about the various methods to score. By playing around with the table enough, a student can start playing around with the table in his or her mind. This thinking produces the useful insight and information necessary to build the machine. The course also uses a funnel design method, where the previous decision leads to a new branch of ideas and decisions. For example, thinking about one strategy can lead to 5 concepts that can execute the strategy, and one of the concepts can lead to 5 different modules. This type of thinking is seen in T.F. Hanson's Engineering Creativity. Hanson calls the set of decisions his Decision Tree, which is a way to "attempt to organize our attack on the design problem" (1987, p.64). At the center of the tree is the first decision made which all other decisions stem from. In the case of 2.007, the student's strategy would be in the center. Out from the center come various branches, going out further and further as the number of decisions increase. In 2.007, the next branches would be concept, modules, and components in the order of increasing decisions. The tree is broken up into 6 or more sections, depending on how many designs you are thinking about. This Decision Tree provides a great way to compare and see all the different designs after each decision.

The first step in building a machine is the design phase. In this phase, the engineer first must identify what the problem is. In the case of the robotic vacuum cleaner, the engineers had to find a way for a robot to clean the floor. As simple as it sounds, there are actually a lot of solutions to this problem. The robot can clean hardwood floors, carpeted floors, or both. The robot can do wet floor cleaning or dry floor cleaning. The robot can be autonomous or remote controlled. It almost seems that there are an infinite number of ways to clean a floor. However, the ultimate goal of the project was to get the most profit out of selling its robotic vacuum. In addition to wanting a lot of people buying their product, the company also wanted to minimize the costs to produce it. These constraints are the creative factors of the design process. Without the constraints, any simple design would work. For example, if there were no constraints in...

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