Peter Ludovice is an Associate Professor in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech. His research involves the elucidation of structure property relationships for both synthetic and biological polymer systems, using an integrated approach that involves both molecular-level modeling and simulation, as well as experimental characterization. In his spare time, Ludovice is also a stand-up comedian, and he is well-known for effectively incorporating humor into classroom instruction.
As commodity industries move offshore, the U.S. economy becomes more dependent on its underlying innovation engine. This underscores the importance of improving technical innovation. While engineers are effective at organizing the design variable conflicts that require creative designs, they are not very effective at the creative thinking required to discover these novel designs. Humorous improvisation has been used effectively to produce the divergent thinking effective in creating novel ideas in non-technical areas. However, improvisation has not proven effective in producing novel technical designs. We have developed a new method for applying improvisation to improve technical innovation that addresses the inherent differences in the shape of technical and non-technical idea space. This method requires a convergent and emergent step, in addition to the divergent step inherent in humorous improvisation to be effective in technical innovation. This method has produced innovative technical designs in various workshops, and these results will be discussed, as well as how such a method may be integrated into engineering research and engineering education.