Real innovation thrives on a combination of viewpoints and talents

Walter Isaacson, in his book, “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution,” shows that brilliant individuals were key to the development of the age of the Internet and personal computer. But the most important milestones, Isaacson argued, were achieved when bright and motivated people worked in groups, exchanging ideas and building incrementally on each other’s innovations. It was true for the modern computer, the transistor, the microchip and the video game industry, as well as the Internet and personal computer.

In that same spirit, Sikorsky has created the Entrepreneurial Challenge, now in its fifth year. The challenge is a competition for ideas that might someday be incorporated by the company to improve helicopters and other flight systems.

The small team that judges submissions looks especially for new perspectives and ways of thinking – ideas that, when their creators start working with Sikorsky engineers, might be the seed of something even bigger.

Do you have one of those ideas? Lockheed has designated three focus areas for the 8th Entrepreneurial Challenge:

  1. Distributed, reconfigurable MEMS sensor network
  2. Adaptive communications for assured data exchange
  3. Advanced sensor fusion

Read more about the three focus areas at the Entrepreneurial Challenge website.

And follow the Techaloft blog for information about research and innovation in science and engineering. Through July 14, we will concentrate on advances in the Entrepreneurial Challenge focus areas.


Improving Aviation Safety with Information Visualization: A Flight Simulation Study

Scientists Cecilia R. Aragon and Marti A. Hearst researched the issue of how to provide pilots with complex and dynamic information on airflow in relatively easy-to-access formats using information visualization. The abstract and the link to their article follow.

Many aircraft accidents each y ear are caused by encounters with invisible airflow hazards. Recent advances in aviation sensor technology offer the potential for aircraft-based sensors that can gather large amounts of airflow velocity data in real-time. With this influx of data comes the need to study how best to present it to the pilot – a cognitively overloaded user focused on a primary task other than that of information visualization.

In this paper, we present the results of a usability study of an airflow hazard visualization system that significantly reduced the crash rate among experienced helicopter pilots flying a high fidelity, aerodynamically realistic fixed-base rotorcraft flight simulator into hazardous conditions.