Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, Systems & Design 2017

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New Product Development; The Nikola Tesla Extrapolation
Eduardo Martinez Escobedo

Last modified: 21-11-2017


Product development has been approached by linear methods that apply to any design problem without concern of ambient variables.  In this approach, we will find a new matrix method that can deliver a basic path in which the designer can begin his journey, but adaptable to accept ambient variables.

Nikola Tesla in his book “The Strange Life of Nikola Tesla” (1914) told us: “Thus I have been led unconsciously to evolve what I consider a new method of materializing inventive concepts and ideas, which is radially opposite to the purely experimental and is in my opinion ever so much more expeditious and efficient.  The moment one constructs a device to carry into practice a crude idea, he finds himself unavoidably engrossed with the details of the apparatus. As he goes on improving and reconstructing, his force of concentration diminishes and he loses sight of the great underlying principle. Results may be obtained, but always at the sacrifice of quality. My method is different. I do not rush into actual work. When I get an idea, I start at once building it up in my imagination. I change the construction, make improvements, and operate the device in my mind. It is immaterial to me whether I run my turbine in thought or test it in my shop. I even note if it is out of balance. There is no difference whatever; the results are the same. In this way, I can rapidly develop and perfect a conception without touching anything. When I have gone as far as to embody in the invention every possible improvement I can think of and see no fault anywhere, I put into concrete form this final product of my brain. Invariably my device works as I conceived that it should, and the experiment comes out exactly as I planned it. In twenty years, there has not been a single exception. Why should it be otherwise? Engineering, electrical and mechanical, is positive in results. There is scarcely a subject that cannot be examined beforehand, from the available theoretical and practical data.”

Tesla’s approach to design tells us to base the creative energy in the conceptual design.  For a designer to get the best results, the method suggests three steps: Preparation, Exploration, and Conceptual Design.  In preparation, the designer must open his mind and learn how to handle his creative muscle, exploration will guide him thru the path of knowledge thru science, and technology, and when he has all the tools on hand will begin the conceptual design.

Once a conceptual design is acquired with the details Tesla suggested, nearly anyone with modeling skills can make the detailed design.

The aim of this work is to explain in detail the method which is proposed, and to show a testing of the method.  The creativity test selected was the Creativity Styles Questionnaire-Revised (CSQ-R) applied to groups of students of engineering, and design schools which were confronted to a design challenge using this method, and to a control group who has never been in contact with the method.