Owl Inspired – Dynamics of Collaboration

Dynamics of CollaborationNature often inspires scientists and engineers to come up with new ideas, but that’s just the beginning of a collaborative process. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Devenport: Looking at nature is a great way of looking at the results of evolution, which have solved problems or just generated structures or configurations that are completely different than we might have thought of before.William Devenport is a professor of engineering at Virginia Tech. Working with colleagues at the University of Cambridge and elsewhere, he’s been trying to develop a quieter air turbine blade inspired by the structure of an owl’s wing. In the dynamics of the group, they’ve been able to turn any misunderstandings and miscommunications to their advantage.Devenport: I think one reason that new ideas come out of collaborations is actually because communication is imperfect, because we don’t completely understand what another person means when they’re talking about it. So we misinterpreted it in a little way. We misunderstand in a little way, but that’s also a way of creating a new idea. Then that new created idea is then communicated back and the other people then pick up on that in a slightly different way. And I think that all of that perturbation to the original concept is what makes valuable ideas. Collaboration is a really nice thing about science – this interchange,cthis generosity of ideas. I think it’s actually something that is kind of structurally built into universities. So, as a professor I have graduate students and I mentor them and I advise them and I interact with them. It’s the combination of me and them that gets the ideas. So, the whole way that the apprenticeship of the student works in a university, brings out new ideas like this.A quieter wind turbine blade is still in development, but the collaborative process has led to may successful wind tunnel trials. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Owl Inspired - Dynamics of Collaboration

A group of engineers working on a problem together can turn misunderstandings and miscommunications to their advantage.
Air Date:02/10/2016
Scientist:
Transcript:

Dynamics of CollaborationNature often inspires scientists and engineers to come up with new ideas, but that's just the beginning of a collaborative process. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Devenport: Looking at nature is a great way of looking at the results of evolution, which have solved problems or just generated structures or configurations that are completely different than we might have thought of before.William Devenport is a professor of engineering at Virginia Tech. Working with colleagues at the University of Cambridge and elsewhere, he's been trying to develop a quieter air turbine blade inspired by the structure of an owl's wing. In the dynamics of the group, they've been able to turn any misunderstandings and miscommunications to their advantage.Devenport: I think one reason that new ideas come out of collaborations is actually because communication is imperfect, because we don't completely understand what another person means when they're talking about it. So we misinterpreted it in a little way. We misunderstand in a little way, but that's also a way of creating a new idea. Then that new created idea is then communicated back and the other people then pick up on that in a slightly different way. And I think that all of that perturbation to the original concept is what makes valuable ideas. Collaboration is a really nice thing about science - this interchange,cthis generosity of ideas. I think it's actually something that is kind of structurally built into universities. So, as a professor I have graduate students and I mentor them and I advise them and I interact with them. It's the combination of me and them that gets the ideas. So, the whole way that the apprenticeship of the student works in a university, brings out new ideas like this.A quieter wind turbine blade is still in development, but the collaborative process has led to may successful wind tunnel trials. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.