How insight with a stick and piece of string led to an engineering adventure taking in spacecraft, military guidance systems and the micro-mechanical devices we use every day in our computers and smartphones.
Ken Gabriel now heads up a large non-profit engineering company, Draper, which cut its teeth building the guidance systems for the Apollo space missions, and is now involved in developing both driverless cars and drug production systems for personalised medicine.
Ken himself has a career in what he might term ‘disruptive engineering’. His research married digital electronics with acoustics - and produced the microphones in our phones and computers. He has a strong track record in defence research and has also worked for Google, taking some of the military research methods into a civilian start up. This led to the development of a new type of modular mobile phone which has yet to go into production.
He tells us why aiming for seemingly impossible goals is a good idea, and how a structured systems based approach can help channel engineering creativity.
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