When was the last time you were really curious about something? The last time you asked, ‘wait, but why?’ And then took extensive time for exploration? Trying to understand things is a core driver for engineers and scientists alike. It’s curiosity that sparks our imagination and creativity; it keeps us digging deeper and gets us further. It’s curiosity that helps us explore new directions, ask even more questions, and sometimes, ultimately, makes us overcome the impossible.
Curiosity is not only a valuable character trait, but also keeps research and innovation perpetually moving. The current climate – be it in academia, industry, or society – needs to give more space for curious people to tap into their imagination and help humanity move forward in the most innovative ways.
Our current research and innovation climate, however, doesn’t necessarily foster an inquisitive attitude. In the last centuries, curiosity-driven research in all fields, including the social sciences and humanities, has enabled the development of the knowledge and technology that are the basis of our everyday life. But in more recent times, short-term, purpose-driven goals seem to have become the norm. A tendency that puts tremendous pressure on one’s curiosity, thereby killing the essence of thriving science.
Why is a curious mindset so important and what, ultimately, is curiosity? And how do you keep your curious sparkle alive in an environment that does not necessarily encourage it? We discuss these questions and issues with curiosity experts -and addicts- from different realms and backgrounds.
Dr. Roland van der Vorst is Head of Innovation at Rabobank, working at the crossroads of strategic thinking and creative thinking. He is a former entrepreneur and professor at Delft University of Technology and frequently appears in lists of the most influential people in the Netherlands (Volkskrant research). Van der Vorst has published several books, including the popular “Nieuwsgierigheid” (Curiosity). He currently writes a weekly column in Het Financiële Dagblad on innovation.
Prof. dr. Tilde Bekker is Professor of Digital Technologies for Playfulness and Motivation at TU/e. She is interested in designing playful interactions between multiple people and multiple objects in contexts of play, health and learning.
Dr. Vito Conte is assistant professor in Synthetic Morphogenesis at TU/e Department of Biomedical Engineering and a group leader of the Synthetic Morphogenesis group at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia in Barcelona.
Juliette van Haren MSc works in the field of biodesign and is a PhD candidate at the department of Industrial Design at TU/e. Her focus as a design researcher is on the development of an artificial womb – an incubator 2.0 – aimed at increasing extremely premature babies’ quality of life.
Prof. dr. Remco van der Hofstad is a full professor and chair of probability in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at TU/e. His key areas of expertise are probability theory and statistics.
This program is organized in collaboration with the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems
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