top of page

Engineer the problem or embrace it?

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

What is the problem that you are trying to solve? Do you really need to solve that problem? Or can you embrace the problem and create a better environment? Or you can take the problem out to pasture. Haha.

I wanted to share my experiences the past couple of weeks working with our engineers, physician partners and investors.

We had 2 significant engineering problems come up with two medical device projects. The problems were substantial. Perhaps some would say that it wouldn't be worth time or effort to figure out. To save time, I will talk about one of the engineering problems. The first problem was one of our devices was continually clogging with multiple iterations of the medical device. 8 iterations. We created multiple iterations to ensure the device would continue to provide the correct medical function. The device would clog ... every ... single ... time. We would create a couple more iterations with the same outcome. I was beginning to think we were the definition of insanity.

Albert Einstein

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” That witticism — I'll call it “Einstein Insanity” — is usually attributed to Albert Einstein. Sep 23, 2015

We were trying to engineer a medical device to not clog.

The engineers and I put together a couple of brainstorming sessions on the books. I told my wife that the device may be dead if we can't figure this out. It just doesn't work.

First brainstorming session we were approaching the problem in a linear fashion. Making sure the device didn't clog. We white-boarded ideas for an hour. Nothing substantial came of the brainstorming session.

For our second brainstorming session. I wanted to be in the lab playing with the medical device iterations. The engineers and I sat in the lab playing with the medical device. We started spit balling ideas of what if we don't care that the device clogs. What if we just create multiple redundancies to make sure the device can 100% unclog every time with in a couple of seconds?! We started testing a couple of ideas right then and there. One of the engineers started printing parts on the 3D printer. We tested the new prototype with 3 back up unclogging redundancies. BY GOLLY! It works beautifully!!

Yesterday we tested a prototype in the lab with all the features with one of our physician partners. It worked perfectly. I mean, the device clogged, we unclogged it, we clogged it again, then unclogged it within seconds. We did this for 15 minutes trying to make it fail. We never even had to use the 2nd or 3rd redundancies! We tested the 2nd and 3rd redundancies independent of the 1st redundancy. It worked! I knew we had something special when our physician partner turns to me and says, "I can't believe that works so well, that is amazing!"

Reflecting on engineering problems. We were trying to fix the problem instead of embracing the problem. The problem wasn't going away. It is super exciting working with such a talented team of individuals. It is extremely fun and rewarding. Really excited to see what other problems come our way!

Credits: Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash


bottom of page