One aid to development or restoration of curiosity is to train oneself to be observant. An injection mold design engineer, especially, should be observant of objects about him that have been created by man. He must ask how the object is made, of what materials it is constructed, why it was designed of a particular size and shape, why and how it was finished as it was, and how much it cost. These observations lead the creative thinker to see ways in which it can be improved, or to devise a better object to take its place. In the world of competitive industry, he may also be led to see a way of reducing its cost. Observation often leads to a revolutionary idea that but he also must have a comprehensive knowledge of a considerable variety of plastics manufacturing materials and of industrial processes. He must be familiar with the organization and functioning of industrial concerns and the human factors involved in a manufacturing enterprise. He must realize that progress is made through working with others, and that honesty, acceptance of responsibility, and the meeting of commitments cheerfully form a basis for good relationships with his fellow workers. He must know that high production rates are achieved when manufacturing operations can be carried on in safety and relative comfort by satisfied shop personnel. He must also be conscious that appearance is a factor in selling a product and either design his product with that in mind or get help in the problem of achieving good appearance without sacrificing utility. Most important of all, he must be cost conscious, as almost all actions are based eventually on cost.may satisfy a public need. Witness the experience of DeForrest, who was led to develop the thermionic electron tube by observing the effects of an electrical discharge on a nearby gas jet. This observation, seemingly irrelevant to what he was doing, caused him to wonder why the jet behaved in an unexplained manner. This was an incentive to develop the relationship of heat to electron flow and, having arrived at the explanation of that phenomenon, he progressed to the invention of the three-element electron tube, which is the core of radio broadcasting.
One significant creative idea usually opens up fields of activities that lead to many ideas. As a student, Dr. C. R. Hanna, Associate Director of the Westinghouse Research Laboratories, was interested in acoustics. This led him to research work on loudspeakers when radios were first produced, and resulted in the development of both large and small speakers with various types of power units. The use of mechanical equivalents for electric currents and electric circuit equivalents for mechanical devices led to many variations and combinations of electrical and mechanical devices. The microphones, pickup devices, and speakers that were developed used mechanical or electrical actuators. When the sound movie came into existence, it was troubled by excessive noise in the system used for recording, pickup, and broadcasting. When fundamental principles of electrical and mechanical filtering and damping were incorporated in the camera and projector, the present-day high-fidelity sound movies were obtained. These achievements in the field of sound attracted many similar problems to Dr. Hanna’s department, such as speed regulation, damping, and elimination of noise in other types of apparatus. As a result, improved speed regulators, quiet rotating equipment, and an automobile shock absorber were developed. The control of large amounts of power by very sensitive electric circuits, mechanical devices, and a hydraulic valve system was a natural step in the solution of damping problems and power control. The control of speed and stability of equipment led to the use of the gyroscope, which is used to keep guns on the target when mounted in tanks, on ships, and in airplanes. The master stabilizer equipment on battleships and the automatic pilot for airplanes and guided missiles are some of the latter applications of the foregoing systems. A less spectacular but equally significant application is the use of a gyroscope to regulate the speed of a relatively slow-moving part, such as that of a gearless elevator motor as it decelerates to a stop. The damping systems have been applied to railroad passenger cars in order to reduce the sway and road shock. The railroad cars also can be tilted to compensate for centrifugal forces in going around the curve. Thus it can be seen that possibilities of an idea are endless and most profitable to the person who recognizes its significance. The idea may be the basis of one’s life work.