In order for an engineering concept to be considered innovative it must be a new method or product; but it can also be a modification to an existing method or product. Generally the function of innovation is to overcome a new obstacle or to improve upon a current solution to any design. For the purpose of this paper innovation will not be defined only as an improvement. However, the innovation may cause new problems to arise. Given this situation the engineer may not have taken all the necessary steps to ensure the success of the application of the new design. In this paper one such engineer (William LeMessurier) and design concept will be discussed. The definition of innovation in the engineering field will be developed and the question of whether or not there are additional obligations imposed on the engineer as a result of innovation will be addressed.
It was previously stated that innovation produces new problems which still holds true, but the statement may cause confusion given the definition of innovation as compared to the definition of invention. Invention is the generation of an idea while innovation is the attempted implementation of that idea. Having established general definitions an expansion on the definition of innovation is needed. An idea cannot be considered innovative if the application is unsuccessful. In order for a concept to be considered innovative it has to meet the design criteria. An innovative design must possess or more of the following characteristics: unusual, ground breaking, novel or a significant transformation from the previous design.
In the field of engineering the distinction between innovative and non-innovative designs is based mostly on pioneering. The purpose of an engineer is to improve. As such, engineers change and enhance designs frequently. In the engineering field the work must be very distinctive to be classified as innovative. An example of innovation includes a plan that implements newly developed techniques or
utilizes previously known methods and devices in an unorthodox manner. Any engineering achievement that changes a standard can be considered innovative as well as one that sets a standard.
William LeMessurier and Associates were hired to engineer the construction of the Citicorp Center in New York City. Due to unforeseen circumstances, only air rights to the construction site were able to be purchased. Not being able to build on the ground created a design challenge for the engineering firm. The final plan required an adjustment to the first floor column layout. A traditional column layout forms the conventional four corners and this design called for the columns to be shifted and centered. Structural analysis found that the unusual design created a problem with building movement. The building swayed due to wind perpendicular to the widest side of the building. In order to combat the design flaw a tuned mass damper system was designed and placed within the top of the building. This...