Deterministic Design: Analytical Instinct


How do some great design engineers just seem to “know” what to do? How can some people just pour out the analysis while others must struggle with every single formula? Are some people just born with what it takes? Are some people funda-bio-mentally incapable of being creative or power geeky? There is no doubt that some people have a knack or are just plain gifted with respect to creative or analytical thought. They have an instinct that is hard to match; however, there are ways in which you can develop your ability to be more creative or analytical. 

为什么很多伟大的设计工程师天生就看起来知道怎么做? 为什么很多工程师能够马上脱口而出自己的分析,而其他人却只能挣扎着找出几个公式撑撑场面?是否有人生来就有解决问题的能力?是否有人生理上就是无法创新的或者热爱技术的?毫无疑问,有些人生来就有创新思维,善于分析问题。他们的直觉是他人难以匹敌的,但是我们可以通过锻炼提升自己的创新和分析能力。

The first thing that you must do is learn to trust your instincts, and then to purposely thwart them. When you are presented with a problem, do just what your instincts tell you to do and approach the problem from either a visual, creative, wild, far-out, zany, draw-and-play perspective; OR carefully analyze the situation and create an analytical model from which you can predict the best answer. 

第一件事情就是相信自己的直觉,但是要给自己提问题,限制天马行空的思维(“少林高僧每学一门武功,就要学习相应的佛法来化解“- 扫地僧)。遇到问题时,按照直觉来做,通过各种方式来分析问题。或者,仔细的分析状况,根据最佳的预测模型,进行问题的分析。



If you first approached the problem from a creative aspect, force yourself to carefully systematically analyze your creative thoughts. Write down in words the physics that describes the problem and your solution. Write down or develop the equations that can model the problem and your solution. Study the analysis and look for the “fat rabbit variables”. If you were starving and had to hunt to survive, you would not waste your time hunting the thin fast rabbits, you would go after the slow plump ones! Life is a Jacobean, so start differentiating amongst the variables to determine the sensitive regions on which you should focus your effort!


If you first approached the problem from an analytical perspective, which is actually no less creative in many respects than a wild visual foray, then it is time to raise your shirt and contemplate your belly button! Pull out the lint and instead of determining how much more you need to knit a sweater, contemplate the cosmos and what combination of fundamental particles has formed somewhere in the universe to solve your exact problem! An infinite expanse of an infinite number of particles means that somewhere the solution to your problem already exists, and all you have to do is tune your mind to the cosmic ether in order to find it! 


Recognize what your strong points are, and keep exercising them so they remain strong; however, you must also specifically recognize your weak points and work to make them strong! then, randomly think in a manner opposite to that which is your norm. You should force yourself to consider the opposite of what you are thinking (as long as they are nice thoughts!). The stress of forcing yourself to think and then think different is a good thing!1


 For example, in the Pass the Puck 2.007 contest at MIT there was a barrier between two sides of the table, and the goal was to move balls and hockey pucks from your side of the table to the opponents’ side of the table. The barrier was difficult to climb, and some students had the bright idea of creating a platform from which their vehicle could zoom over to the other side, thus knocking a few of the balls on the ridge onto the other side, and then pin the opponent to prevent them from scoring. Tim Zue saw that many people were building platforms, and everyone had the same motors and the same weight limit. He used analysis: maximum tractive (pushing) effort is the product of the normal force and the coefficient of friction. He had to figure out a way to maximize the coefficient of friction between his vehicle and the platform. While others made metal platforms, Tim secretly planned to glue sandpaper to the surface of his platform... The rest is history and he won!


Perhaps most importantly, after you complete an experiment or analysis, check the results with analysis or an experiment, and find out what worked and what didn’t, so you can develop and calibrate your instincts and be ready for the next problem! 


What do your creative instincts tell you about the contest table and the best way to score? What does your analysis say is the “fattest scoring rabbit” that will yield the highest score? Look at your kit parts and what creative thoughts come to mind with respect to how you might use them? What analytical tools do you have to determine the physical limits of the kit parts? Make sure to look at your course website to see what is already available! 

从直觉上分析本次竞赛的场地,决定你的最佳得分方式。你的直觉分析结果中,哪一种是最高效的得分方式?仔细审视自己的工具箱,不同零件的不同使用方式是否对你有很多启发?有没有什么分析工具可以帮助你决定每个零件的使用极限? 确保随时更新网络课件中的内容。

 1.Some scientists believe that evolution happens most rapidly when a system is stressed. Others believe that genetic mutations happen at random. But perhaps both are correct!






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