Throughout my personal career journey, and the new expedition I’m on here at Monolithic 3D, innovation and invention have been an important thread. Let’s take a look…
Wikipedia describes innovation as: The term innovation derives from the Latin innovatio, the noun of action from innovare. The Etymology Dictionary further explains innovare as dating back to 1540 and stemming from the Latin innovatus, pp. of innovare "to renew or change," from in- "into" + novus "new". The central meaning of innovation thus relates to renewal or improvement, with novelty being a consequence of this improvement. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innovation]
Wikipedia describes invention as: An invention is a new composition, device, or process. An invention may be derived from a pre-existing model or idea, or it could be independently conceived in which case it may be a radical breakthrough. …… Inventions often extend the boundaries of human knowledge or experience. An invention that is novel and not obvious to others skilled in the same field may be able to obtain the legal protection of a patent. [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invention]
So, renewal, change, newness, and extending or breaking boundaries are the keys and the result is something novel. (I’ll talk about patents in the next blog)
Fridays were one of my favorite days of the week whilst at Actel [Actel]. One of the R&D groups, and probably the most ‘profitable’ one, I built was a radiation effects team, led by a very smart scientist by the name of Dr. J.J. Wang [JJWang] (who is still at Microsemi/Actel). I would buy lunch (food + caffeine = ideas) for his team, as well as the Technology Development process and device engineers and scientists, and we would brainstorm ideas. A team member might report on a recent symposium he/she had attended, and we would pick one new technology and try to think about how it would help make better FPGAs. I would regularly summarize the state of the semi business and new technology announcements, and that would provide another avenue to brainstorm on. I even would have the last page of the Discover magazine (“20 Things You Didn’t Know About ____”) up on the overhead projector (yes, still used those machines sometimes) to start us thinking while munching. We ended up developing some new flash-based cell and array FPGA architectures that (temporarily) solved the scaling issues, and many ended up in production.
I was also known to go around to all the TD area conference rooms and even into TD engineers cubicles (everybody had to have a white board in their office to doodle and noodle on) and regularly replace the worn out dry erase markers and the eraser bars…nothing must get in the way of technologists drawing pictures, right? Ah, and also the thermal paper (older models) of those whiteboards that could print what was written. And, yes, you already guessed it: I generally took the notes and published them. Can’t keep building the foundation every week, right?
After we started winning government $$ (25+ M$ by the time I left) to develop various radiation hardened new products, I invited design, CAD, and layout folks to the ‘TD lunch’, and we innovated all sorts of crazy, and sometimes useful, new RH NVM cells, programming schemes, etc. So, a ‘free’ meal, casual Friday dress, lots of great technical discussions, and some great ideas and solutions as the output. Good times, good times.
I thought I was pretty good at encouraging lateral thinking and being a lateral thinker……NOT!
Next blog I will talk a little bit about innovation & invention at NuPGA/Monolithic 3D during the last 2 years ….’creativity on steroids’!