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TRIZ Workshop at Northumbria University by Karen Gadd from Oxford Creativity, November 2015

The MEng Mechanical Engineering students have taken part in a TRIZ, inventive problem solving, workshop. Karen Gadd, Director of Oxford Creativity, presented the workshop as part of an Interdisciplinary Design module within the department of Mechanical and Construction Engineering. TRIZ the ‘Theory of Inventive Problem Solving’ was created to systematize processes and procedures related to innovation and creativity in the solution of problems. It is an established methodology for creativity that relies on the study of the patterns of problems and solutions, and not just on the spontaneous creativity of individuals or groups.

The TRIZ methodology, used extensively in product development and innovation, has become very popular among many national and transnational companies in the world such as Boeing Corporation, Rolls Royce, Daimler Chrysler, Ford, Hitachi, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Motorola, NASA, Nestlé, Samsung, Intel, Toyota, Xerox, Whirlpool and many others.

During the workshop Karen explained to the students “TRIZ can be used by breaking down the process of problem-solving into discrete elements, each of which is expanded through concrete techniques. TRIZ increases the creativity of problem solvers by providing them with guiding principles and a collection of techniques to come up with useful ideas that lead to many possible solution concepts”.

“During the process of invention and problem-solving, engineers often reach the state of psychological inertia that prevents the human mind from reaching the full potential of its thinking and creative abilities. The tools of TRIZ are designed to change the way people think by bypassing this inertia so they can start thinking outside the box,” Karen said.

According to a workshop organiser Dr Ulugbek Azimov the purpose of the workshop was to share information and knowledge about TRIZ with students and give them an opportunity to learn new problem solving techniques which may then be immediately applied within their studies. Designed in an interactive way, the workshop highlighted how idea generation with TRIZ is different from conventional idea generation through brainstorming. It taught students how to apply TRIZ to solve various problems in engineering and technology. Dr Azimov believes that the knowledge gained by the students during the workshop will inspire them to apply and practice TRIZ in their graduate careers.

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