Sanjana - Research, a Stepping Stone for Success

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi once said, “Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.”

For the past few weeks, my focus has been on researching my idea, validating its value as well as learning from the previous attempts that others have made. In addition, I have been researching on what 3M products to use and how to best gather data to derive meaningful information. I believe that researching is crucial to any project as it not only helps to learn about new and related things, but also helps deep dive into different perspectives about the subject. In other words, it helps to understand the topic in depth very clearly and thoroughly, compare thoughts and ideas to those who have been successful and to those who have failed, and also helps to build confidence.

During research, the hardest part of gathering information is to cover all avenues where the data could have been published. For instance, the data could be found in books and magazines in the traditional library system, or it could be in any online source such as Wikipedia and blogs. The tough part is to explore all these areas and filter the pertinent information related only to the scope of the project.

I believe a problem can indeed be solved without doing any research. However, such a solution would be inadequate and inefficient. We might miss several essential details that the implementers in the past would have considered. In addition, we may newer know the better, simpler, and economically feasible ways to solve the problem. Without sufficient research, it could not only become expensive to amend the design at later stage, but also the implementation of the amended designs may not complete on time.

Since every project has time and resource constraints, it is a crucial timeline decision to start designing and implementing as soon as enough information has been obtained. This includes a clear definition of the problem, the expectation of the solution, the constraints under which the solution needs be developed, and a rough draft/reasonable plan of the solution.

Another critical aspect of the engineering design process is organization. By being organized, scientists are able to arrange and sequence their points so that they do not miss anything. For example, a common way to organize thoughts and data is by using visuals. This way, scientists can easily refer to some research information they have obtained in the past. If scientists stay organized, they can meet their deadlines on time, as everything would be laid out clearly.

I started researching about my project by going through each and every piece of information that is available online. I went through various documents and research papers to get an idea of the steps that I will have to undergo in order for my solution to be successful. I also referred to various books and sources within libraries to get a better picture of the process that I would need to follow. I kept a journal to document all my research material, as I want to stay organized as well.

Research is never-ending…