Vice President, Rational Smarter Product Development
IBM Software Group
We like to imagine that everything we can buy today in a car dealership or in the home theater department came from massive R&D labs filled with engineers and scientists in white cleansuits, working with the most advanced technologies in the world. But, this really only happens after new technologies have time to mature and gain adoption. The origins of these technologies are often a lot less glamorous and polished than that. This kind of innovation has been driven over the years by 'makers' who toil away and tinker with unproven technologies to create new things. So, those flashy 2014 cars and home theater systems of today really started out as hand crafted, one of kind devices like these.
sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automobile, http://www.charm.rhul.ac.uk/history/p20_4_1.html
This kind of innovation comes from the passion and drive of makers who tinker in their garage or lab to see what is possible. Early makers, like the engineers in Edison's Menlo Park labs, created the foundations of entire industries. So, watching the efforts of makers can be a tremendous way to see the future of engineering.
Today, makers are everywhere. It is a great time to be an engineer. At events like Maker Faire, and on innovation incubators like Indiegogo, and Kickstarter , you will see a lot of passion around topics like 3D printing, Internet of Things, and virtual reality. They are using open standards, open source, and open platforms to create the next generation of products. Not everything they produce is useful or viable to sell, but if you watch these communities, you will get a strong sense of how things may look in the near future.
sources: http://makerfaire.com/, http://www.indiegogo.com/, https://www.kickstarter.com/discover/categories/technology?ref=category
This week,the White House announced it will host it's first ever Maker Faire. I can't wait to see what people come up with for such a visible event.