Nebraska Public Power District works very closely with the UNL Energy Sciences Research Center and helps fund innovative projects related to energy through our Domestic Energy Research & Application Initiative. This pathway will give you the tools to be the next big innovator!




Foundation

Ideate

Pathway: The Path of Innovation


Getting started is the hardest part (except for the final 10% but more on that later). Utilizing key tools and a strategic approach you can creATE an IDEa (IDEATE) worthy of your innovation.

Observe the World Around You

"Stop. Look. Listen." is a great safety message from our friends at the railroad, but it also is great advice to begin to see the world around you in different ways.

Steps:
1. Hit the streets: Interview people and local businesses
2. Take notes - what do you see?
3. Identify strategic problems to address

Dig deeper by exploring the Observing the World Around You pathway that dives into collecting data with sensors! http://pathways.nppd.com/p210


Questioning Attitude

"What is the Definition of Questioning Attitude? The NRC’s SCPS (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) defines Questioning Attitude as when individuals avoid complacency and continuously challenge existing conditions and activities in order to identify discrepancies that might result in error or inappropriate action."


What?????


Yes the NRC gets a bit wordy and rightfully so - but at a nuclear power plant safety culture traits like a questioning attitude are an essential part of life. Check out the link below to learn about how a questioning attitude helps keep nuclear power plants safe - then step back into the world of innovation. Can you apply this concept to the IDEATION phase of innovation?


• Challenge the Unknown

• Challenge Assumptions

• Avoid Complacency


Brainstorming Tools

Sometimes getting your thoughts organized is the most important part of the IDEATION process.


Unfortunately - you will probably have more ideas that you know what to do with. Here are some tools that will help you brainstorm and organize your ideas!

N-ocentive Challenge

Need a little kick start? There is a new trend in innovation called crowd sourcing. This is where I have a problem to solve but don't have the resources to solve it - so I post it to the Internet with a reward and people from all over the world can submit solutions. The winning solution gets to keep the reward and everyone goes home happy!

Pick one of the following challenges and use one of the brainstorming techniques to come up with an idea for the solution:


Solar Thermal Challenge

Pick one of the following challenges and use one of the brainstorming techniques to come up with an idea for the solution:


Solar Thermal Challenge

ANALOG

Research

Pathway: The Path of Innovation

Now that you have an IDEA - its time to dig into a little research. This stage gives you a foundation to build your idea on. Look around see what others know about your idea. Has it been done? Can I just improve upon other's work? Am I venturing into a wild new frontier?

Research Tools

Here is a list of research tools that will help you in your research

Google Scholar Research Search Engine: https://scholar.google.com/intl/en/scholar/about.html

Research Project Organization: http://www.trello.com

Evernote for advanced note taking: https://help.evernote.com/hc/en-us/articles/218176427-Evernote-for-Research



Find Filter & Apply

One of the key skills necessary to be successful in today's world is how you navigate the Internet. This concept of Find-Filter-Apply will help you make the most of your research

FIND  -- open up a new browser window and search for "Hydrogen Power Plant" and see how many results popped up in a fraction of a second.

  • This high level search is a great way to start - you might even find some general information that will help you mold your idea.
  • Unfortunately, you get to deal with 66,900,000 results related to Hydrogen Power Plant!


{ Now use your fishbone brainstorming chart to identify key topics you would like to "find" and search on that key term}


FILTER -- in your browser window search for "Hydrogen Power Plant" again but this time include "Nebraska"

  • We were able to filter out 66,147,000 results with just one additional word!
  • By using your fishbone to focus your search you can make your results more relevant


{ Now make one or two additions to your personal key word search and see the results }


APPLY -- Just finding results isn't enough in research. You need to dig in and mine nuggets of information that can help you develop and evaluate your idea

  • Click on the Sheldon Station Goes Hydrogen result from the "Hydrogen Power Plant Nebraska" search and see what you can learn about hydrogen
  • You will find a lot of great information so be sure to use some of the tools listed to collect and organize your research!

What are you looking for?

Knowing where to look is a great start. Knowing what key topics and filtering topics are is a great next step. Turning this research into a useful step of the innovation process take a little more.

Things you have to research to fully vet your idea include:


  • Your CONCEPT {fishbone}
  • Your CUSTOMER {who are you making this product or improvement for?}
  • Your COMPETITOR {Hey - don't reinvent the wheel. Learn from what others have done before}
  • Your COLLABORATION opportunities {who can help you with this concept}

Things you have to research to fully vet your idea include:


  • Your CONCEPT {fishbone}
  • Your CUSTOMER {who are you making this product or improvement for?}
  • Your COMPETITOR {Hey - don't reinvent the wheel. Learn from what others have done before}
  • Your COLLABORATION opportunities {who can help you with this concept}
DIGITAL

Concept Testing

Pathway: The Path of Innovation


Now its time for the rubber to hit the road. You have spent time brainstorming to come up with your idea. You have researched and rethought your idea. Now it is time to see if she will fly.


In the concept testing phase you will ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Can I Build It?
  2. Can I Improve It?
  3. Are we a Go or NO Go for launch? {well not really launch but is this idea worth continuing to the next phase?}


Can I Build It: Proof of Concept

Before you spend time and money on a prototype, you need to prove your concept. This isn't a full fledge working model this is simply enough work to answer the question: is it possible to build given the circumstances and constraints of this project. 

1) Make 3D design your friend.

2) Test the parts not the whole.

3) Remember your competitors during research? Yeah, their work has given you a head start - USE IT TO PROVE YOUR CONCEPT!

1) Make 3D design your friend.

2) Test the parts not the whole.

3) Remember your competitors during research? Yeah, their work has given you a head start - USE IT TO PROVE YOUR CONCEPT!