What stops innovation? This.

i-f875c0b07d9b3cb6229668554781b35a-alice.jpgA good colleague of mine sent this video around a couple of days ago, with the disclaimer that sometimes he saw himself as the engineer, and sometimes (increasingly) like the “management dude,” a fact he found alarming.

I for sure feel that one of the reasons that we see so little change in academia is for similar reasons.

The story about who created the video and why was on NPR. While it has pretty low production values, and the acting isn’t award-worthy, I think we can all recognize the patterns and sentiments.

Here’s a nice contrast I shared with my first-year engineering students: Engineer Your Life’s video of Judy Lee. I even had a student come up to me after class and say that this video is what she wants to do with her life, and what should she choose as a major to follow that dream? Way cool. And way cooler than the outcomes of the first video that just made me depressed…


  1. #1 Mrs. CH
    February 11, 2009

    This reminds me far too much of our departmental meetings where we discuss ideas for outreach. **shudder**

  2. #2 arvind
    February 11, 2009

    Good lord that was some really bad acting!! Valid point, but terribly bad acting.

  3. #3 Comrade PhysioProf
    February 14, 2009

    That was fucking fascinating!

  4. #4 Emily
    February 18, 2009

    And yet, I can’t help remembering working as a subcontractor on NASA projects getting whipsawed around by endless design changes and “great new ideas.”

    The guy who said, “It’s not my job to come up with an optimal design,” is right, and that’s completely necessary during many parts of the process of actually building a space vehicle and getting it into orbit for a merely staggering amount of money (as opposed to a 2x that amount).

    I’m not sure where great innovative ideas fit into a late-stage, or even mid stage, design process for a complex system. They need to be developed and deserve resources for that development, but at some point you have to say, “This will be great for the next project, but in the mean time let’s finish this one.”

  5. #5 Jennie
    February 21, 2009

    reminds me of my work as a consultant, it’s all about the budget and pleasing the clients.

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