Thomas Edison Pioneered Team-based Innovation

The very notion of “innovation” traces back to when Edison perfected his invention factory, later to morph into commercial R&D labs, team-based problem solving—a seismic and permanent worldwide economic shift .

Edison enjoying a meal with one of his teams at his legendary West Orange Labs.

Edison enjoying a meal with one of his teams at his legendary West Orange Labs.

Of all he invented, this was his most significant achievement. Before Edison died in 1931, every major corporation adopted this powerful innovation tool; and it remains fundamental to this day, whether a company does it in their own labs or joins in alliance with other labs.

R&D labs gave birth to legions of project managers who today manage and lead new product development teams all over the world-a process that creates jobs and whole new industries, and continually disrupts the status quo, the very heart beat of capitalism. It has been said of Edison that his life’s work has probably been responsible for one-fourth of all the jobs on planet Earth today; as well as account for 10% of the annual world economy … about $6 trillion.

Teams like this developed many of the new innovations at West Orange

Teams like this developed many of the new innovations at West Orange

General Electric had a powerful slogan back in the 1950s-“Progress is our most important product”. Edison is the fellow, in 1887, who unified progress with team-based innovation-exactly what we teach our children in school in STEM classes today. Thanks Tom!

Thomas Edison said, “I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent …”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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Thomas Edison Salutes Founding Father Inventors

Necessity is the mother of invention as the old adage opines, and taming a wild country certainly qualifies as a necessity. Fascinating it is to realize our founding fathers were inventors as well as statesmen, legislators and leaders. Consider the inventions of our great forefathers…

Franklin Playing His Armonica

Franklin Playing His Armonica

Benjamin Franklin
Bi-focals, the Franklin stove, lightning rod, the glass armonica (musical instrument) and being major supporter of lending libraries, community hospitals, and volunteer fire departments

 

Typical George Washington Wheat Threshing Barn Design

Typical George Washington Wheat Threshing Barn Design

George Washington
Drill plow, wheat threshing barn

 

Jefferson’s Wheel Cipher

Jefferson’s Wheel Cipher

Thomas Jefferson
Iron plow, swivel chair, macaroni press, dumbwaiter, pedometer, folding ladder, and a great clock, wheel cipher

James Madison
Combination walking stick and microscope

Lest we forget, Thomas Jefferson almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia. Jefferson was also the first administrator of the U.S. Patent Office, the formation of which was empowered by law thru the Constitution. This office is probably our oldest federal agency, and one that through its fee schedule for patent application/maintenance essentially pays for itself.

We would be remiss not mentioning an Edison life-long favorite as well, Thomas Paine, noted for inventing a single-span iron bridge and a smokeless candle. Paine may not be as well-known as the great men mentioned above, but many of the documents of the time and discussions about the kind of government we would have derived from Paine’s logic and sometimes incendiary speeches to rally the populace.

Noteworthy is the kind of process thinking that Franklin, like Edison, proposed. Think how lending libraries, hospitals, and fire departments have made a significant and enduring impact on our quality of life.

Thomas Edison would consider his inventive activities in good company with the founding fathers … practical with great utility!

Thomas Edison said, “I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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Thomas Edison Smiles Down on Young Inventors

To an excited crowd of parents, students, and teachers, the winners of the 7th annual Thomas Edison Invention Challenge were announced and celebrated at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park [TENHP]. The contest celebrates inventors from across the country, and in this case, some overseas entries as well.

Originally 118 student teams from over 80 schools entered the contest, with about 22 teams qualifying for run-off. From this, 6 winning teams shown below were celebrated at TENHP.

Here is a summary of the awards in both the elementary/middle school and high school award categories.

All finalists

All finalists

Elementary/Middle Schools

1st Place – Montague School: Team NATEX: Solar Key Light
Solar panel charges during the day which charges two batteries. These batteries give energy to the light in the evening giving an efficient light that allows for users to view their keyhole while entering their home at night. This is a unique way of saving energy and omitting a homeowner from needing to use their porch light at night to enter their home.

Middle School First Place: Nathan and Teacher Karen Goyette

Middle School First Place: Nathan and Teacher Karen Goyette

2nd Place – Betsy Ross Elementary: Mahwah Inventors Team: Lung Exerciser for Assisted Living Folks L.E.A.F
This invention will help people in assisted living get more oxygen to their lungs and get rid of carbon dioxide. This will improve lung function of assisted living residents, make them stronger, improve the quality of their lives, and prevent very serious complications like pneumonia. This device is used as an exercise, as the user must blow the turbine which will then give them an idea of their lung capacity and strength. If the user continuously uses this device their lung capacity will theoretically grow.

3rd Place – Pequannock Valley Middle School: Panthers: Solar Charged Fitbit
This device will aid and prompt users to get outside and walk more. A never ending supply of solar power to a “Fitbit” would aid consumers in wanting to get out and walk challenging themselves on a daily basis to push themselves to further limits.

High School

1st Place – Seton Hall Prep: Design Team 1: Heated Shovel
This invention was created to aid individuals in the winter. The heated shovel allows for users to shovel for extended periods of time without getting cold hands. The warmers heat up two grips that in turn warm the hand. The device is rechargeable making constant use feasible.

High School First Place: Charles and David—Teacher, Kelly Ford

High School First Place: Charles and David—Teacher, Kelly Ford

2nd Place – Seton Hall Prep: Design Team 2: Solar-Pirate
This device allows for users to charge their cellular device without the need of an outlet. This device is both cost and energy efficient. The user simply plugs in their device and places the solar panel in direct sunlight. The device is marketed at roughly half the market value of portable charges creating consumer ease and financial savings.

3rd Place – Mt. Olive High School: Public Assisted Lift Chair
This chair acts as an aid in going from a sitting position to a standing. This device will aid in lower the risk of osteoporosis, stress on the knees and even fractures. The device uses sensors that would assist the user in standing as the sensors pick up weight differentiation. The prototype would be powered by wind or solar energy alternative forms of energy. This device is marketed to the elderly and those with joint issues.

Thomas Edison said, “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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