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The Era of Young Innovators: Looking Beyond Universities To Source Talents

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the yeah-but-can-you-sign-a-contract? dept.

Education 86

New submitter billylo writes "Tech heavy industries are constantly looking for new sources of innovations. But where are the best place to find them? Increasingly, businesses are looking beyond universities and source ideas from savvy high schoolers. Cases in point: High school programming team finished in the Top 5 of MasterCard's NXT API challenge (3rd one down the list) last weekend in Toronto; Waterloo's Computing Contest high-school level winners [PDF] tackled complex problems like these [PDF]; the FIRST robotics competition requires design, CAD, manufacturing and programming all done by high schoolers. Do you have other good examples on how to encourage high schoolers to become young innovators? Do you have any other successful examples?"

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86 comments

High Priest Of The Church Of The Painful TRUTH (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049127)

If all blacks and knee grows were like Geordi Laforge there would be no racism.

Re: High Priest Of The Church Of The Painful TRUTH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049219)

Yes there wood. The southern hillbillies would become their own race and be shunned by the engineering north until a clear leader emerges from the tea potty and starts another uncivil war. Jordi would return to Atlanta and lead his people to freedom on a hyperloop. But ultimatey we would still need to deal with climate change and militarism on order to make it through the 22nd century.

Re:High Priest Of The Church Of The Painful TRUTH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049221)

Well-educated and adept at warp engineering? Well then they could warp out of here and leave the racist Earth behind them.

Re:High Priest Of The Church Of The Painful TRUTH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050009)

The NASCAR racists , the marathon racists or the rat racists, be specific.

of course (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049131)

it's not because high-schoolers are naive and cheap, no no no, it's because of "innovation"! Innovation for all! But keep ther 19th century social model though; innovation not wanted there.

Re:of course (5, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 10 months ago | (#45049161)

Innovation is one thing, it's a completely different thing to create business from it. We are missing out a lot of good innovations because the ideas get stifled or the innovator gets pushed down because the investors thinks that it's a bad idea. (The idea may be bad for their business, so therefore they don't promote it)

Re:of course (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049405)

yet we're getting plenty of shit ideas due to VCs doing a pump and dump

Re:of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050095)

What saddens me is that there is a lot of cool technology out there that doesn't but could exist simply because there is not enough profit to justify the investment. Imagine if the defense budget was mainly spent towards military research. We'd probably be way ahead of where we are now and I'd imagine the advancement in military technology alone would put our military 30-50 years ahead of everyone else, making up for the lack of spending on tanks/ships/missiles/airplanes/etc...

Superiority and its discontents (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 10 months ago | (#45050157)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superiority_(short_story) [wikipedia.org]
""Superiority" is a science fiction short story by Arthur C. Clarke, first published in 1951. It depicts an arms race, and shows how the side which is more technologically advanced can be defeated, despite its apparent superiority, because of its own organizational flaws and its willingness to discard old technology without having fully perfected the new. The story was at one point required reading for an industrial design course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[1]"

Of course, that ignores the irony implicit in most high-tech military systems, which I explain here:
http://www.pdfernhout.net/recognizing-irony-is-a-key-to-transcending-militarism.html [pdfernhout.net]

Maybe if more people, including high schoolers, realized that, the world would be a place with less needless suffering and more joy.

innovation != "innovation!!!1!" (4, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | about 10 months ago | (#45049247)

But keep ther 19th century social model though; innovation not wanted there.

you almost have it...19th Century *Business* model.

you're absolutely right the industry doesn't know what 'innovation' is b/c many tech leaders (broadly) got to be in that position not by 'innovation' but by sheer luck, stealing other's work, or by being a lackey.

M$'s government contract aided ascendence is the perfect example. They scaled up from the garage b/c Gates & Co. were willing to do w/e IBM wanted. IBM, of course, had just gotten a huge government to put PC's on every government desk.

Who needs to do R&D and 'innovate' when the government guarantees your company a revenue stream and captive market???

The industry is killing itself from hype...it's like a human eating only SweetTarts candy everyday...it'll kill you eventually

Re:innovation != "innovation!!!1!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049367)

Yep. That goes a long way towards explaining the complete lack of innovation in the computer industry. Basically nothing has improved or even changed in the last 30 years.

Re:innovation != "innovation!!!1!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049457)

How much of that innovation has truly come from big entrenched enterprises (such as Microsoft in the GP's example), versus how much innovation comes from newer/smaller companies (which then seemingly inevitably end up growing into the next big enterprise).

We've seen this happen with Google (web search), Skype (VoIP), Facebook (Social media), and so forth.

Re:innovation != "innovation!!!1!" (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 10 months ago | (#45049511)

Well, I'd say about 20 years - there's nothing I can do on my main computer today that I couldn't do on the Acorn ARM-based desktop I bought in 1994. There's not one idea that is implemented now but wasn't implemented then.

With one exception: more space-efficiency. Although these have been cancelled out by so many layers of bloat that RISC OS then feels as snappy as Windows 8 today.

Re:innovation != "innovation!!!1!" (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 10 months ago | (#45049741)

That ARM-based desktop had an architecture that was effectively finalized sometime around 1985...

Re:innovation != "innovation!!!1!" (1)

Salgat (1098063) | about 10 months ago | (#45050107)

Out of pure curiosity; in the ideal world if backward compatibility was not a concern, what would be considered the best modern architecture to use for personal computers?

Re:innovation != "innovation!!!1!" (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 10 months ago | (#45052767)

Ah, I remember the ARM1 springboard thingy. I got an A3000 around 1990, although that was a bit inadequate - no hard drive, coprocessor slot, etc. But yeah, similar throughout. 26-bit architecture is more elegant than 32-bit, too :P.

Re:innovation != "innovation!!!1!" (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 10 months ago | (#45050031)

You hit the nail on the head. Nothing has improved, it only got prettied up. It does more, but it's more of the same crap. It's faster, but an emptier experience. It's convenient, but expensive. It does more work, but it has more bugs. Seems like paying the public to perpetually beta test produces the illusion of progress in victims of cranial rectumitis.

Future already here but unevenly distributed (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 10 months ago | (#45050305)

"Yep. That goes a long way towards explaining the complete lack of innovation in the computer industry. Basically nothing has improved or even changed in the last 30 years."

More true than one might think at first: http://developers.slashdot.org/story/13/08/09/1641249/back-to-the-future-of-programming [slashdot.org]

See also:
"The Real Computer Revolution Hasn't Happened Yet" by Alan Kay
http://www.vpri.org/pdf/m2007007a_revolution.pdf [vpri.org]
http://archive.cra.org/Activities/grand.challenges/kay.pdf [cra.org]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKg1hTOQXoY [youtube.com]

Personally, cross-platform reasonable speedy VisualWorks Smalltalk from the 1990s in many ways still has not been surpassed (except in the sense it was not free and open source and somewhat lesser stuff like Python and now Java is). The Newton's 1990s view of a PDA with integrated soups of data is still (in some ways) advanced beyond Android. Or from:
http://inventors.about.com/od/istartinventions/a/internet.htm [about.com]
"Vannevar Bush first proposed the basics of hypertext in 1945 [in "As We May Think"]. Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, HTML (hypertext markup language), HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) and URLs (Universal Resource Locators) in 1990."
Project Xanadu was around in the 1980s doing Hypertext, inspired by Theodore Sturegon's 1950 short story "The Skills of Xanadu".

Don't confuse the eventual implementation of part of old ideas (like Kay's 1970s DynaBook vision being realized in part in today's laptops and smartphones) with the notion of conceptual progress.

Even much of robotics and AI is just old ideas finally being more workable with better hardware.
http://www.transhumanist.com/volume1/moravec.htm [transhumanist.com]
"The stupendous growth and competitiveness of the computer industry is one reason. A less appreciated one is that intelligent machine research did not make steady progress in its first fifty years, it marked time for thirty of them! Though general computer power grew a hundred thousand fold from 1960 to 1990, the computer power available to AI programs barely budged from 1 MIPS during those three decades. "

Still, it is also true there are no doubt many innovations now lurking here or there for which we have not yet hear much of. As WIlliam Gibson said:
http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/681-the-future-is-already-here-it-s-just-not-evenly [goodreads.com]
"The future is already here â" it's just not evenly distributed."

Much of what young kids are interested in is what they have seen in movies, read in stories, or played with in games, and so on. True, they may sometimes put things together in new ways. But its still very often old, old ideas they are working with.

Re:innovation != "innovation!!!1!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45051075)

Yes, and how much of that innovation has actually resulted in a shorter work week or cheaper food? So what are you innovating? The 19th century somehow managed to reduce the workweek while increasing the yield of farming. Now we need two people of a household to work and food is expensive. If we're all so innovative and productive, well, where is it? What have innovated and what are you producing, and for who?

good point about food_mod up^ (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 10 months ago | (#45052231)

The 19th century somehow managed to reduce the workweek while increasing the yield of farming. Now we need two people of a household to work and food is expensive.

I love this. I'm going to make a point to remember it and use it.

It succinctly describes what unchecked consumerism has done in ways that are difficult to dodge.

It's a-political...in points out a truth in a way that demands clear action but cannot be easily trolled.

Re:good point about food_mod up^ (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about 10 months ago | (#45053933)

The 19th century somehow managed to reduce the workweek while increasing the yield of farming. Now we need two people of a household to work and food is expensive.

I love this. I'm going to make a point to remember it and use it.

It succinctly describes what unchecked consumerism has done in ways that are difficult to dodge.

It's a-political...in points out a truth in a way that demands clear action but cannot be easily trolled.

It succinctly describes what unchecked capitalism has done in ways that are difficult to dodge.

FTFY. A large amount of the proceeds of that increased productivity went into the coffers of the minuscule percent and has largely never gone back into the general economy. You don't have to take my word for it; a bit of searching, and many of the better results available directly from such places as the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the IRS, will give you a start. Until Bush the Younger the greatest recorded shift in wealth occurred under Reagan, for instance. There was a brief expansion of the middle class peaking around the middle of the last century, but that was more a bagatelle, and a large bit of it on credit as distinct equity, temporary trends in home ownership notwithstanding.

Yes, there indeed has been increased consumerism and that credit bubble is real, but it's only a partial explanation for the question of where all the productivity went to. Moreover, the military-industrial complex while providing some jobs has been a large suck by any yardstick.

Follow the money, follow the profit, follow the profiteers. Where does the money come back out? It doesn't, in meaningful terms.

Re:good point about food_mod up^ (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 10 months ago | (#45054333)

unchecked capitalism has done...FTFY

I acknowledge that you FTFM.

I put consumerism instead of capitalism in order to head off any trolls who have a google alert set for anything that doesn't praise the capitalist economic system.

I agree with your definition of capitalism. It is accurate to common usage and avoid confusion with 'socialism' 'communism' 'fascism' etc.

I'd like to move away from the 'capitalsim/communism' dichotomy because it is actually really reductive.

Re:good point about food_mod up^ (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about 10 months ago | (#45056741)

Thank you.

I don't blame your caution. For the rest, while I'm a simpleton I still try to call it as I see it. Further, like you, I too try to use more useful terms than ones which generate reflexes rather than thought.

Btw, your sig, I found Dave's instructions and essays on CSS and a bunch of other stuff helpful and informative; his glimpse into the workings of W3C are most interesting.

Re:good point about food_mod up^ (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 9 months ago | (#45061507)

Btw, your sig, I found Dave's instructions and essays on CSS and a bunch of other stuff helpful and informative; his glimpse into the workings of W3C are most interesting.

me too!!!

I came across Dave's page long ago when I was lost in layers of abstraction and pre-standards internet browsers ;)

My dad was a cryptographer in the Navy and he taught me computing first by punch cards...which is kind of like a Rosetta stone for any digital system...it was great...for a time...

Then the "world wide web" came along and I was hopelessly annoyed/confused...

Enter Dave Ragget's simple page that to this day easily introduces concepts of web presentation. It has definitely guided my user interface design concepts!

Re:innovation != "innovation!!!1!" (0)

SerpentMage (13390) | about 10 months ago | (#45050125)

Oh give me a break! Yes Microsoft stole everything! Want to know what Microsoft did as innovation? They made it possible to print from any app. Sounds trivial, but Microsoft perfected the driver model. Until Windows 3 the concept of the driver model was there, but it was broken or haphazard. I was there when I needed printer drivers for Wordperfect, Lotus 123, etc. These days we assume things just work, and it was Microsoft that perfected this.

Did Microsoft innovate other areas? Yeah, but guess what Apple innovated as well, but they also stole ideas or "borrowed". The designs from Apple came from Bauhaus design school. Look at Philips, or Braun in the early days. Very similar to what Apple has now. Apple improved and refined and made things work better. The software industry works because we borrow, beg, steal and innovate along the way. In other industries there are very definite lines, but not so in the software industry. And this is why software patents suck because they hit everybody.

Now the fact that you say the industry is killing itself? Right... I was there in the 80's typing away on consoles and 64 baud internet connections using Archie, and gopher. Heck finger actually worked in those days. What we have now is WAY WAY better and I for one don't want to go back to the "glory and good ol days" because they were not better, they were worse.

Want to know how things sucked? Watch Magnum PI sometimes and look at the tech. Magnum PI is a great show and quite timeless, but the tech, computers, etc shown just makes me giggle as to how we "used to do things".

What is happening is that the industry is mature and software is mature. Makes it harder to break into new ideas.

Re:of course (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 10 months ago | (#45049369)

Haha as if most university students aren't naive and cheap.

Re:of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050711)

99% of them will never be truly innovative, either.

Thoughts (2)

roman_mir (125474) | about 10 months ago | (#45049145)

When hiring people I do not care what their level of formal education is, however I do specify the type of knowledge I expect the potential employee to possess.

I don't care if you come from Harvard or Waterloo or you never completed your high-school, I only care that you in fact do know something about computer algorithms, file systems, networking, complexity, etc. I take time to teach you stuff and it is important to me that you can catch up quickly and use the knowledge for work, that's all that matters.

Re:Thoughts (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049149)

The only hiring you've done is renting a car in the UK, you liar.

Re:Thoughts (1)

rhodium_mir (2876919) | about 10 months ago | (#45052065)

Gold Price Performance USD
Today -7.70 -0.58%
30 Days -80.10 -5.76%
6 Months -241.90 -15.59%
1 Year -484.20 -26.99%

get the computer aided stuff out ASAP (3)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 10 months ago | (#45049183)

and get them in the shop to learn how to fabercate their new impossible desgins

3d printers and cad goes hand in hand with mill work, files and sandpaper

Re:get the computer aided stuff out ASAP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049199)

fabercate! Get you to high school to learn how to spell those impossible words!

Re:get the computer aided stuff out ASAP (1)

fermion (181285) | about 10 months ago | (#45050525)

It is true that innovation is not just computers and printers. There is an important component of building impossible designs, and then scaling them back for production. One innovation of the Saturn program was welding. The weld lengths that were required were at least an order of magnitude beyond the state of the art at the time. On the project I was working on, the machinists needed to be very creative to get our work done.

This needs to be communicated to schools where the kids in Calculus are considered better than the kids who can machines, so they school has no machining tools because who wants to delegate kids to a second class status. Or where all the kids are relegated to nothing because they can't be trusted with the tools.

Let me add this. The basic process of engineering can be taught using just about anything. If we want to teach problem solving, then problem solving using a scientific or engineering process in every grade up to at least ninth grade has to be a required part of the curriculum. The curriculum must involve an increasing set of complex tools that will students to leverage their talents. We might decry a CMC, but how much work is done with chisels instead of a lathe.

But really the issue is not equipment, but schools. There are only one thing school understands: tests. So it is difficult for schools to have a class that teaches innovation because teachers and students are going to be judged on regurgitating facts and figures or completing a design that they basically have already done or winning a competition.

We could have more open ended work done where completion of the curriculum or mastering a set or facts is not the purpose. The purpose is to go through a problem solving process for a wide variety of tasks using a wide variety of tools. Every student is going to reach different levels with different qualities and different products. This is a very dangerous situation, where everyone will ask why are paying teachers with no accountability and rewarding students without fixed products. Yet in my highest paying jobs I have little day to day accountability, and often my solutions looked very different from expectation. After all, why pay someone huge amounts of money if the solution is known. The real skill is posing the questions well.

Kids are gonna do what they are borned to do... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049191)

I know there's bad English in the title; I took it from a song in Huckleberry Finn.

We all seem to be wired to do something. It may be sports, music, art, construction, cars, whatever. I know I have been driven with curiosity of all things electronic/scientific as far back as I can remember. Its like spots on a leopard - I came this way. I have noted others are exactly the same way as far as their wiring goes, whether it be likes/dislikes/foods/sexual orientation/ whatever.

Its easy to find kids with a bent to do this. They will flock to things like science fairs and techie conventions.

They will do this, even with considerable social rejection for doing so.

Face it, techie kids are not near as encouraged as one in sports or some sort of leadership skill.

If you want one of these - catch one before he has been burned out by the system.

Today's business environment is full of very highly paid suit-guys who are more fruit inspector than anything else, rejecting everything that is not perfect. People only handle so much rejection before they pass on doing what they love as a vocation then do it independently. A suit guy more obsessed with conformity and respect for authority is not apt to attract any creative types to his company. I think the kids have wised up that few of us stand a chance to be gainfully employed in the tech sector unless it is something like Google or Facebook. We can't get past the suit guy at the personnel office - you know - the guy who could not bias a transistor into the linear region if his life depended on it, but yet his signature determines whether or not we get employed, or can even speak to anyone knowledgeable in the field who could make an employment decision.

Yes, I am jaded, but that has been my experience. I talk to a lot of kids about this field - and advise them to do this if you are wired to do it - otherwise there are lots more very highly profitable ways to earn a living. Banking and finance especially, One gets far more remuneration from owning rather than working under today's tax laws.

Re:Kids are gonna do what they are borned to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049509)

Similar to what the above AC is describing there is another issue I have seen over the past few decades, even in places where its not all football and MBA's there is still a very demonstrable issue. If you want to get in on some serious depression, see if you can get yourself a sample population of programmers who have never been to university (high schoolers or otherwise) and then a sample population of any who have just taken any 100 level Programming Methodology or Algorithms course.

Ask them both to solve the same problem an you'll probably find a wide range of solutions from the former, to brilliant and concise to what the hell are you doing; From the latter, the same tired solution that was considered smart 5 years ago which, while adequate, will not lead to any innovative approaches.

Now the latter is great if you want code monkeys hammering out expected code for already solved problems that have no major expectation for improvement, which is honestly most commercial programming. If you are looking for innovation though you'll be wanting to either catch em young or start shelling out the cash you'll need for some masters or doctoral grads.

Re:Kids are gonna do what they are borned to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049925)

In other words: You want to catch the good brains before they get indoctrinated and jaded from college, university and mediocre job experiences. There ARE good examples of the opposite, but you're much more likely to not meet your standards, anywhere.

However, in my experience, you'd get brilliant, but unmaintainable code from non-CS/professional programmers. From CS/professional programmers, you'll get a ten hour lecture on how algorithms work and how stupid you are for not having the same thoughts as them. The end result from CS: Alot of time wasted on some clever solution that is more for satisfying CS curiosity, than meeting customer needs.

However, don't mistake brilliance with high maintainability and stability either. For startups, brilliance may get you ahead of the curve, but you do need to expect to refactor and rescale the whole thing. For big companies, brilliance often leads to unmaintainable spaghetti-code, often affecting the customer / end user so much they start actively looking elsewhere for solutions. Yes, such a horrible scenario is often the norm, sadly. Big companies tend to forget their customers and core business model, while startups live and breathe it, out of necessity, and often fails at that.

Any business should want to innovate somewhere in the middle of these extremes according to need.

Re:Kids are gonna do what they are borned to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45055483)

Did you ever hit the nail on the head...

Big companies tend to forget their customers and core business model, while startups live and breathe it, out of necessity, and often fails at that.

I am at yet another startup... as I *am* one of those "creative" types who has dreamed up something that has not been done that way before, or at least as I know. It is my experience that innovation is simply not tolerated at established organizations. Working "with" them is like trying to re-cast concrete. They have already hired their order givers, have their pecking order, and any change will be highly resisted.

It is not my mission in life to suffer the consequences in trying to innovate in corporate structures designed to stifle it - just as I do not try to grind up cinder block to try to reform it to something else. Best bet is to make some fresh raw concrete, make your form, and pour away.

Established companies have their cash cow. You will either help them milk their cash cow - or start your own farm.

Re:Kids are gonna do what they are borned to do... (1)

dkf (304284) | about 10 months ago | (#45051083)

Ask them both to solve the same problem an you'll probably find a wide range of solutions from the former, to brilliant and concise to what the hell are you doing; From the latter, the same tired solution that was considered smart 5 years ago which, while adequate, will not lead to any innovative approaches.

You are aware that the world doesn't need yet another damn sorting algorithm? If people want to innovate, they should do so in an area that hasn't been solved totally. There's lots of those.

Re:Kids are gonna do what they are borned to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45056271)

Absolutely. The biggest problem are the HR morons who haven't got a clue about the actual subject matter and simply do "box ticking" on applicants' profiles. So much excellent talent doesn't even get a chance for an interview because they lack a box tick on one of the job's "requirements".

Stop using HR for applicant screening. Have engineers interview engineers and suddenly you'll start to hire non-conformant but excellent talent.

This is bound to come up... (1)

connor4312 (2608277) | about 10 months ago | (#45049209)

There's always Jack Andraka [wikipedia.org] , who happened upon a method for cancer detection. Like many great discoveries, however, it was by chance - background of the discovery is readable across the interwebs. This year at the Intel Internation Science and Engineering Fair (which I attended, competing Computer Science of course), he placed but third in his category, amoungst many other third place winners.

Re:This is bound to come up... (2)

connor4312 (2608277) | about 10 months ago | (#45049233)

And as a side note: if you need faith restored in the upcoming (my) generation, take a day visit to ISEF when it rolls around near you - they rotate around most major US cities, or even just read about it if you cannot - it's very much worth it. There's pretty incredible, mind-blowing research at every other booth.

Re:This is bound to come up... (3, Interesting)

Goldsmith (561202) | about 10 months ago | (#45049309)

Kids like that are a good example of what can be done by high schoolers. They also show that universities are very useful. Jack did his work with a professor, based on published work by several other professors and students. It's because guys like George Whitesides and Charlie Johnson publish and talk about their work that he was able to pick it up. Working in a well run lab is an inherently collaborative experience, and experiencing it early can be very useful.

Benefits flow both ways. Sometimes in academic groups, there's such a focus on doing funded research that people forget to try things just because they should. Young scientists are very good at pushing the older guys to keep trying out new stuff.

all BS (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049213)

you can innovate at 30, but can't. There's a reason.
You can innovate at 20, but can't. There's a reason.

You can innovate at 15.... it's the same reason.

The reason: having a mentor.

The NXT, FIRST and other competitions work cause the teams have very experienced mentors with the goal to promote innovation.

Colleges used to have mentors, but because of IP competitiveness, marketing hyping bright minds (hence mentoring stops) so quickly, mentoring in college is dropping off. Especially as college kids try to negotiate deals with VCs like a basketball player.

And if you're 30, no one with mentor you cause every mentor thinks you're out to steal IP or just hyping up your skills.

In the end the VCs still win cause the labor is cheap (high schoolers) commpared to college kids who want to be the next Zuckerberg

Re:all BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049381)

Not only that... the bean counters see some older guy teaching a younger guy how to do something. Then the older guy gets laid off.

That's how it happened with me.

The older guy I learned from got laid off before I did. Then they sent a young tech guy to work "for" me, then I got laid off.

Aerospace.

Warning: if you take a job with these guys, know in advance you probably won't last long. Just long enough to satisfy some contract they had with Uncle Sam. Ask your salary accordingly. Sports stars have no problem doing this, knowing their attractiveness to their employer will only last so long. Corporations seem to have no problem coming up with money to hire executives and managers. They should, if we all get together on this, have enough money to at least pay an engineer, who has studied years in school and run up considerable debt and is accepting a temporary job - at least as much as an executive who enjoys a permanent job with benefits and a retirement plan with golden parachute.

The executive did not get his bennies by giving himself away. Managers get paid very well for finding those who will give themselves away and accept layoffs without a lawsuit.

Re:all BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45054609)

The mindset to innovate is a must before finding a mentor. There are mentors all around if you search enough - your neighbor, your teacher, your father's friend and so on. Some have to approach them and show interest in finding out what they are doing, why they are doing and what one can learn. With parent pushing their children to excel in sports and hobbies without encouraging the kids to learn science etc., and the parents themselves have no quality education almost all students become followers and not leaders. Taking risk and allowing the kids to fail is not allowed ion our families. Most community college students in the USA want only good grades - a behavior continuum from their high school routine follows them and they don't care about innovation or invention. Community colleges, in general, waste tax dollars and promoting bureaucracy rather than academic excellence. The administration gobbles up the bulk of the funding. They care less about teaching. Colleges and universities exploit unprepared students by admitting them to their colleges and collect their share of revenue from day dreaming sstudnets. They encouraging them to borrow without any thing in return to the students except for giving a piece of paper .This scenario is worst in Asia and Arab countries too. Following safe path is the goal of most of the students both in Asia and in the US. By looking at students from Asia with Masters degrees, we assume they are innovative. Most want to have comfortable middle class life such as, buy a house, have kids and enjoy their life but no significant contribution in their life. When economic down turn comes, they run back to their country of origin. A couple exception makes us think, all immigrants are better than the locals. If you are creative and innovative, you are labeled nerd, weird, ridiculed and verbally abused and so on, if you try to be unique. I know this because I was there. Still I found at least two mentors through helping them, observing them, sharing my fears with them and asked their guidance. it worked very well, but it took time, efforts and interest on my part. However, in most companies you promote sales people or mediocre scientist and engineers who make sure that no one upset their life and career. Universities are full of such junk people, So, unless you are lucky and in the right educational environment, no innovation will come out. All it takes one innovative and inventive mind to change the whole world. But that is the nature of innovation that most humans must fail and only a very few should succeed. There is no cure for this curse.

Universities declining in relevance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049253)

in an era of free information?

Ideas are all around (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45049261)

New ideas are always floating around, it's just a matter of listening. I've been proposing the idea of a dynamic relational database that is less "stiff" than the current crop of databases for projects that need a rapid launch, but nobody seems to want to build one, yet can't explain why other than "it's too different, unfamiliar". (Most of the weak-points have been addressed or shored up against.)

The bottleneck seems to be between the idea and the implementation, not lack of ideas. Maybe it's lack of guts.

Re:Ideas are all around (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049285)

The bottleneck is always between idea and implementation. Ideas are cheap and in near infinite supply. Executing ideas successfully and creating a successful business from those ideas - that is always the hard part.

The onus is not on others to explain why they don't want to build your idea; the onus is on you to convince them as to why they should.

Maybe you haven't effectively communicated a compelling value proposition for why someone would want to adopt your technology over other proven methods. Maybe it just isn't a very good idea.

Either way, suggesting that others don't have the "guts" to follow your idea doesn't strike me as a strategy likely to lead to success.

Re:Ideas are all around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049427)

Sometimes you have to go all out and build your dream - all by yourself.

I know what I have. I think it will be very useful.

It hasn't been done this way before. I know exactly what I am doing and by God, I am gonna give birth to this thing if its the last thing I do.

I am wired to do it. I do not have much choice. Its like having a burning desire to create art or music.

Bean counters will do nothing but harass me over cash flow.

I flat do not want to mess with them. They are as bad as bankers. ( Well, they ARE bankers ).

I have taken the plunge to build this thing. I have spent roughly $2500 so far in parts and technical services. It is open source and uses the Arduino platform. I am doing all the hardware design and writing all of its code. I consider myself quite good in writing the code it needs and designing its low level analog and power interface.

I already have a website domain for it, but parked for now.

Maybe I will link back to this post when I give birth to this thing. For now, I don't want to elaborate much more.

Sometimes, you have to believe in yourself if no one else will. Everyone I have seen that has made it big has done this.

Otherwise, he spends his whole life as a wage slave building someone else's dream.

Re:Ideas are all around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049981)

Doing the same thing here. It sounds like you won't be discouraged by the opinions of others which is a good thing. I'd say "don't over-extend yourself chasing an obsession", but I would be a hypocrite. If you were to fall short of your goals because you didn't spend enough money: that cost savings would come at a pretty high price.

If I've learned anything from my obsession it is that the school of hard knocks is a very expensive way to achieve an education and that books & classes can expedite things for a comparatively low cost.

I've also learned that it is easy to research too much, and that judgement is the ability to know when & where to apply that research to achieve an objective.

Re:Ideas are all around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050017)

I applaud your effort.

If I have one tiny suggestion: partner with someone who is good at business and people. Let them handle things like setting deadlines and persuading people. Work as a well integrated team like a good marriage. The odds on you succeeding begin to climb very sharply.

Ship or demo something. You can always add features later.

Good luck.

Re:Ideas are all around (1)

russotto (537200) | about 10 months ago | (#45050659)

If I have one tiny suggestion: partner with someone who is good at business and people. Let them handle things like setting deadlines and persuading people.

Bad idea. The person who is good with business and people will use his skills to take nearly all the money and all the credit. That's just the way they're wired. If you think otherwise about a particular business person, remember the fable of the scorpion and the frog.

Re:Ideas are all around (1)

dkf (304284) | about 10 months ago | (#45051177)

Bad idea. The person who is good with business and people will use his skills to take nearly all the money and all the credit. That's just the way they're wired. If you think otherwise about a particular business person, remember the fable of the scorpion and the frog.

But if you don't partner up or learn how to do those parts yourself, you still won't succeed. Business skills and people skills are necessary to taking an idea and turning it into a proper money-spinner. But then, as was said earlier, ideas are cheap; the value is virtually entirely in the execution. In particular, you have to be able to delegate (no one person can do it all except in the smallest of businesses; there's just not enough time) and there's a great many specialist areas: finance, project management, personnel, legal, purchasing, sales, manufacturing, IT/communications support, marketing, R&D. (Some of the above may be rolled together into a single position, especially in a smaller business or in a very development-oriented one.)

Re:Ideas are all around (1)

russotto (537200) | about 10 months ago | (#45053081)

But if you don't partner up or learn how to do those parts yourself, you still won't succeed.

That's right. So, if you have an idea, and can't manage to do the business and people stuff yourself, the best thing to do is just sit on it. Why let a douchebag get rich off your idea while you get shut out?

But then, as was said earlier, ideas are cheap; the value is virtually entirely in the execution.

The business people use this sentiment to justify what they do. To which I say they can come up with the damn ideas (and all the technical details they disdain as well) themselves.

Re:Ideas are all around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049327)

I'm with you friend. Maybe because innovation is often seen as a threat to established orgs, government or company. You can have good idea getting to big time with one of those working against you, but not together. It is disturbing the inventor of Bitcoin is unknown. That is not somebody who thought a good idea to claim credit for invention. Something to think about.

Re:Ideas are all around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049331)

allow me to add to the detractors:

Why you we need a new "dynamic" database when we already have database libraries that will automatically adjust database schemas to match you data models?

How is your idea different from the plethora of Object oriented databases that have largely failed to gain widespread adoption?

The bottleneck you speak of is convincing someone who has the skills to build your vision that you idea is worth implementing. To do so, you need eihter money or a really damn good idea.

Re:Ideas are all around (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45051619)

Why you we need a new "dynamic" database when we already have database libraries that will automatically adjust database schemas to match you data models?

This would be before one has solid data models. You could "create" a field or table just by saving to it. Over time you could lock it down, incrementally adding constraints as the project matures.

And it's far more flexible than an OODBMS.

Re:Ideas are all around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049355)

You'll actually find that it's getting people to buy it that's the problem.

It's a bit like a cafe. You decide the look, the location and the menu. You purchase all of the equipment, select the contractors and the work gets done. You open the doors to the hordes you anticipate and ... noone comes... Why? Because noone else is there.

I developed a product for a year. Everyone that used it, loved it. They kept on asking me for longer "trials" - but the second you talked $$, they got cold feet. I even listened carefully to the critics - who also loved it.

Re:Ideas are all around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049503)

Your product is intriguing to me and I wish to patronize your cafe.

Re:Ideas are all around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049639)

How can you get more flexible than let's say mongo?

mongo
> use mydb
> db.mystuff.save({'name' : 'Jones'})
> db.mystuff.save({'name' : 'Camille', 'age' : 3})
> db.mystuff.find()
{ "_id" : ObjectId("52512d4e0db21d865cc84a21"), "name" : "Jones" }
{ "_id" : ObjectId("52512d5e0db21d865cc84a22"), "name" : "Camille", "age" : 3 }

I don't think having more flexibility is the problem. It's lack of simple tools for schema handling in application server.

Re:Ideas are all around (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45051653)

My idea would more closely resemble existing RDBMS, at least for querying purposes, making it easier for query writers to pick it up. Mongo has a Lisp-like query language.

Re:Ideas are all around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050023)

RDBMS have survived so long, and will continue to do so, for damn good reasons. Are you sure you understand why people stick with it?

If you think it's just "an old habit", you better rethink, alot. The foundations of RDBMS are mathematically deep and sound, and although no practical implementation maximize its utilization, the theory does serve as a foundation of some sorts for all modern RDBMS. Because of reliance of generic optimizations, more so today, than ever before.

I would recommend you first study the roots of RDBMS. It's not just some tables and rows to CRUD, but something much much more fundamental.

Maybe you can utilize the relational theory in order to achieve your goal? What is your goal, anyway? There exists multitudes NOSQL-options today with different goals already. Do your ideas align with one of those projects?

However, for most traditional projects, you want a stable schema. You want predictability and stability, not "magic". So be sure to set your goals straight before committing too much. If they can be aligned with relational theories or existing tools, all the better. Work smart!

If you want to spend alot of time on this. I would suggest, just try these suggestions above first, but if you REALLY REALLY want to ('cause it's fun!):
How about build your own prototype? Can you do it with existing tools in order to make some proof of concept really really fast? How easy and fast can you do it, and can you put the value of the solution up for display?

I'd avoid working alot. Been there done that. It's fun, but without a bigger plan, often a big waste of time. You will learn alot though, so go ahead if you want to have fun and learn! :-D

Last rule: There are No rules. Make your own ;-)

Re:Ideas are all around (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 9 months ago | (#45064967)

The dynamic idea is a lot closer to existing RDBMS than the current crop of NoSql databases. We have static application languages and dynamic languages for different purposes and niches, so it makes sense to have static RDBMS and dynamic RDBMS for similar reasons. That's pretty much what guided my design drafts.

We would have to give up some things in exchange for other benefits*, for sure, but it's part of the fundamental static-versus-dynamic tradeoff set. I believe there are legitimate niches and times for a dynamic approach.

One of these days I may get around to a prototype, perhaps after I retire.

* It's debatable about whether adding dynamism makes such technically "non-relational". It's a sticky, long philosophical debate and may revolve around how one interprets certain terms and "rules" of relational. Even the existing products probably fail some of the rules. And it may not matter much: as long as the tool is useful, adherence to some "pure" notion of relational may be excess idealism. Most useful tools have at least some theoretical ugliness to them, often in exchange for practical issues. The most theoretically ideal tools are often too abstract for mainstream users and IT workers anyhow.

Re:Ideas are all around (1)

module0000 (882745) | about 10 months ago | (#45050461)

This isn't a flame...but try implementing your idea in an easy mode language like Python (or any highly expressive language). Your time investment won't be large - and if it works...perfect! Then you have a proof of concept and you can refine it to death, and then port it to a compiled language.

You could host it on a visible site like github, sourceforge, or savannah to try and attract folks to help you if you are short on time as well. Time is probably the biggest barrier I have to implementing new software ideas.

Rich kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049349)

I guess the kids of rich/connected parents won't even have make the motions of going to college now.

Re:Rich kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049439)

"College is a dream world. This is something you do to pass the time... till you go out in the real world and start buying people."

Desparation (1)

jandersen (462034) | about 10 months ago | (#45049481)

This is not, by any chance, connected to a general trend in the US to scale down funding for research and education? To me it looks like an act of desparation, like trying to revive the record industry with a season of X-factor.

There is no denying that young people have a lot of creativity and talent, but talent is only a small part of success; you may say that talent is "instant success" - you just need to add about 90% water in the form of sweat.

Re:Desparation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049581)

It's definitely connected to a general trend of anti-intellectualism in the US to make college graduates unemployable.

GTA being relevant here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049521)

"LifeInvader" The GTA Facebook alike, had a Mark Zuckerberg mockery giving a speech about how the company had the youngest workforce in the world at an average of only fourteen and a half years of age. Apparently real life is catching up to mocking art even quicker than ever.

Think of the children (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049553)

I don't believe you should go any younger then 18 year when you are looking for talents, since I want children to be children. I'm against child labor. Even intellectual labor.

Re:Think of the children (1)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about 10 months ago | (#45050515)

No way. I am fully in support of employing kids as young as 13 in intellectual labor. After all, that's when they know everything.

Why no BLACKS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049631)

LOL.

Gold Medallists
First Name Last Name School Location
(I)*CALVIN DENG North Carolina School of Science & Math Durham, NC
(I)ANDY HUANG Milliken Mills H.S. Markham, ON
(I)ANGUS KONG Vincent Massey S.S. Windsor, ON
COLIN LI Bayview S.S. Richmond Hill, ON
ALEX TUNG LaSalle College Kowloon, Hong Kong
(I)YUANHAO WEI Earl of March S.S. Kanata, ON

Silver Medallists
First Name Last Name School Location
TIANZE CHEN Earl Haig S.S. North York, ON
DANIEL HUI Woburn C.I Scarborough, ON
JACOB JACKSON University of Toronto Schools Toronto, ON
KEVIN SUN Kennedy Jr. High School Lisle, IL
MENG TAO Beijing No. 4 H.S. Beijing, China
YIK WAI-PAN Pui Ching Middle School Kowloon, Hong Kong
SHINE WANG Bayview S. S. Toronto, ON
TED YING The Woodland School Mississauga, ON
JIM ZHANG Waterloo C.I. Waterloo, ON
JI ZHICHENG H.S. Aiated with Beijing Normal University Beijing, China

Bronze Medallists
First Name Last Name School Location
MICHAEL BROUGHTON Northern S.S. Toronto, ON
DAWON LEE Harry Ainlay H.S. Edmonton, AB
YIKUAN LI Don Mills C.I. North York, ON
CALVIN LIU Glenforest S.S. Mississauga, ON
MOHAMMAD AMMAR QADRI Woburn C.I Scarborough, ON
ADAM RICHARDSON Colonel By S.S. Gloucester, ON
ALEX RODRIGUES Bishop Carroll H.S. Calgary, AB
HENOCH YEHAYES Charles P. Allen H.S. Bedford, NS
MICHAEL YOUNG Richmond Hill H.S. Richmond Hill, ON
FAN ZHANG Lisgar C.I. Ottawa, ON
ZIHAO ZHANG Vincent Massey S.S. Windsor, ON

No 'Detrayviuses' or 'Deshawns'? But, but... I thought we were 'all the same', and that having millions of Africans living in MY country was a good thing?

Re:Why no BLACKS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049655)

Where the drunken rednecks at? Rednecks are the real Americans, right, right?

Re:Why no BLACKS? (1)

mikael (484) | about 10 months ago | (#45049719)

If you look at the addresses, that is in Canada (Ontario = ON, Nova Scotia = NS)

Re:Why no BLACKS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049749)

North Carolina == NC, USA!

Re:Why no BLACKS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049743)

Don't spill my beer! I'm doing SCIENCE! for MASTERCARD!

Science fairs are better (2)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 10 months ago | (#45049647)

I was looking at this... the robot fighting etc... I don't think its actually spurring innovation because there are too many rules. The format etc is too constrained.

Innovation is essentially about thinking outside the box. If your competition includes a box you have to stay inside of then its inherently not testing for innovation.

What if I want to fight their robot with my genetically engineered cyborg spiders? That's way more innovative but probably not allowed.

I don't know... the whole thing just looks a little too kiche.

lol "experts" */:P (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049669)

Poisoning the brightest minds of consumers everywhere!

yes! (1)

Pirulo (621010) | about 10 months ago | (#45050105)

the kindergarten Lego league

Need to have more of the apprenticeship system (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 10 months ago | (#45050589)

Need to have more of the apprenticeship system or even just more schools with an trades / tech setting.

We are pushing to many people into the older University system that was not really build for that as well being used to try to tech skills that should not be in an University.

Also the push for all to go to University some have to dumb down as well.

Not so special (1)

KramberryKoncerto (2552046) | about 10 months ago | (#45050927)

Many people are simply not so much exposed to these events / competitions, but still go on to become better students at undergraduate level and beyond.

They bring out talent from high school students, but at that point it is still far, far from real innovation. The problem setters and mentors are often university students anyway. These things encourage students to go beyond their high-school curriculum and think cleverly, so they have some great skills to use in industrial or academic settings. They are capable of entering the workforce, capable of joining and growing new businesses, but there is nothing special about their ability to "innovate". They still have a lot to learn, and in terms of cleverness there are many, many comparable university graduates out here.

Inventing really new things require some luck, and unless you're extremely lucky it would require extensive exploration. One page of new mathematics requires lots of thinking and learning. Even a prodigy like Erik Demaine spent 6 years on his PhD. Being smart doesn't mean you can always create something new - new, valid ideas are so scarce and hard to reach, and there is immense competition, so you still need to work hard for a long time to actually produce the results.

Then there's the prodigy problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45051297)

Sometimes you find prodigies.. they reach adult levels of performance at a young age, but then, by the time they get to college, they aren't advancing anymore, and now they're just the same as everyone else.

Yesterday's teen genius is tomorrow's univ. genius (1)

snsh (968808) | about 10 months ago | (#45051595)

The question answers itself, because the 16-year old tech geniuses from 2006 have become the 23-year old tech geniuses of today. Presumably any "tech genius" will become more genius as they grow older from 16 to 23. So today's 23-year old whizzes should always be superior than today's 16-year old whizzes. And after another seven years, some of today's 16-year olds will become 2020's best 23-year olds, and should outshine 2020's best 16-year olds, who won't be 23 until 2027. The better question to ask is, at what age is person going to peak in technological ability?

The bigger fallacy is who enters these competitions? They might attract exceptional high school students looking to distinguish themselves in their college applications, but your best college/university kids and young professionals are going to be too busy with other ventures and commitments to participate in these contests and hackathons. If you've got a million-dollar idea, you're not going to waste a weekend on a contest that can net you a couple of thousand dollars.

In reality, most of the young professionals participating in these events are either unemployed or underemployed. They're hardly the best representatives of their generation's talent.

Throw money at the problem (2)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about 10 months ago | (#45052707)

It's pretty simple. Thrown money at the problem. A lot of it. Stupid amounts of it. Make the rewards for being a nerd as good or better than those showered all over the jocks. Make sure that a lot of these major geek kids get full scholarships, signing bonuses, and access to cutting edge lab facilities when they get to college. But you also have to add a fame component to it. These kids need to be put on TV and written up in mainstream magazines. And not just once every few years. Not just once a year but followed regularly as they move from high-school science fair star, through college, and all the way to startup company.

I've met many brilliant and innovated people (2)

ToddInSF (765534) | about 9 months ago | (#45060905)

over the years. When a person gets wise to how things really work, how corrupt industry is, and how the media, industry and government takes everything and destroys it, they wise-up and simply drop-out.

True innovators don't care about making big corporations money, or being part of a system that is based on the lowest common denominators of greed and a warped form of self interest.

Big business wants to corrupt and brainwash kids, that's all this article is about. Creating an amoral class of dunces that can help prop-up the true entitled class of MBA's and polysci parasites that steal other people's brilliant work and market it as their own.

Even before high school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45064131)

In Twente (Netherlands) they have a contest that let children make a (toy) car out of lego and a solar panel and then compete against other teams (http://twente.com/legosolarrace). This is a fun way to introduce children in problem solving.

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