Understanding Creativity

As engineers respond to the challenges of our century, we find ourselves facing new demands, new tools and increasingly complex economic and regulatory environments. Our creativity and our ability to work together are essential to meeting these challenges. Without a fundamental understanding of the creative process, however, the hard work of communication and the normal iterative process of design can become sources of friction that compromise project development. This essay draws on historical and contemporary examples to illustrate the importance of language—visual, verbal and mathematical—to the engineering design process.

This essay was first published by the International Network for Structural Art as part of a 2012 collection of essays celebrating the 85th birthday of Professor David P. Billington of Princeton University.