Developing a Technological Mindset

September 3, 2015

Landing a dream job is, well, everyone’s dream. But how do you get there? This is a question IV Lab wanted to answer. It turns out there’s probably not a cut and dry path. For some, it’s taking challenging educational course work and for others, it’s the eye opening internship or other life experience. And for most of us, it’s likely a combination of factors.

IV Lab’s David Piech recently shared his perspective on how to develop a toolkit that can help STEM students achieve their goals. David started at IV as an intern immediately after graduating from Duke University, and is heading off to graduate school this falls. For David, finding his path wasn’t only about education and experience – it was about developing the right mindset.

We’ve previewed a few of David’s tools below, but for the full set, make sure to check out his post on IV Lab’s blog.

  • First Principles: Learn the first principles of at least one field (likely the one you are studying) and how more complex ideas and capabilities in the field are built from those first principles. A deep knowledge of first principles in one area will help your understanding of how they work in general and will help you understand how other fields build up complex ideas and capabilities from their first principles. This will take the mysticism out of other field's impressive capabilities and turn it into a respect for their first principles and methods of systematic inquiry, which in-turn makes you more confident to interface with other fields.
  • Breadth: Build technical confidence by being exposed to a number of different areas and problems. This is NOT intended to make you deeply knowledgeable in those areas, but will make those areas less unknown, less frightening to work with, and will give you a better sense of how problems are worked and solutions built in general.
  • Tinker: Tinkering allows you to test a core concept, develop your mind's eye and intuition for an idea, and (importantly) communicate the idea to others. Be aware that while tinkering has immense value, sometimes a well-engineered system behaves fundamentally differently than one quickly put together. As long as this is acknowledged, both tinkering and thoroughly-engineered systems are valuable. Tinkering allows you to quickly iterate through simple physical prototypes.

David’s Note: I have found these techniques to be useful in developing a technical mindset. I provide neither guarantee that they will be of similar aid to you, nor assuredly that they are even correct in their advice. They are biased towards the fields and projects I have been involved with, and are not intended to be exhaustive. I fully acknowledge that I am far from having a full grasp of these techniques and having a mature technical mindset. Take them for what they are. 

For more on David and all of the compelling work that IV Lab is doing, check out the Invent, Investigate, and Inspire blogs.

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