If at first you don’t succeed…

 Sir James Dyson is the inventor of the world’s first cyclonic vacuum cleaner.  I came across a recent interview with him in The SMART at www.heathrowexpress.com and which gives us an insight into the mind of one of the world’s most renowned inventors and designers.

 Sir James tells us that his engineering interest was inspired by a friend’s Dad who used to make small steam engines and that he would then try and build things when he came home.  Sir James mentions that, ‘‘At a young age it is good to experiment and fail as it teaches you why some things work and others don’t.’’  He states that it is very important that design and technology lessons get children experimenting with materials and prototyping ideas.  His foundation www.jamesdysonfoundation.co.uk works with secondary and primary schools to encourage children into careers in engineering.

 The secret to being creative he says, is to be ‘‘persistent and determined.’’‘‘Many intelligent and creative people give up too easily on their ideas.  There will be setbacks and there will be people who will try obstruct it, so getting a product to market is not easy.  It is important to be single minded if necessary.’’

 Once you have a great idea – how do you protect it and stop people copying it?  Sir James says that the answer is very simple – Patent it‘‘Without a patent the inventor may end up ripped off and cheats will attempt steal the idea or take it from the shelves.’’

 Sir James reminds us that it took 5,127 prototypes to develop the world’s first cyclonic vacuum cleaner and that there were 5,126 failures before he eventually succeeded.  It is important to note that each failure was necessary to improve and perfect his technology.  It’s all about test and learn – including doing the vacuuming at home.

 Tomás Gleeson

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