Generally from what I have learnt, and problems I have seen before. Sometimes just random luck, sometimes a new idea.
Sometimes from answering questions on the web that make me think a bit differently. 🙂
I like to approach a problem from a new angle. I try to think about designing something like it hasn’t been thought about before, like using a square tube instead of a round one, using adhesive instead of a screw, turning something upside down to see if it will still work. Sometimes these ideas don;t work, but it is always important to ask why something is done the way it is – if no-one knows then it probably isn’t the best way and it would be good to look into alternatives.
We draw inspiration from absolutely everywhere and anywhere.
A lot of inspiration comes from nature.
When we adapt designs from nature we call this biomimicry.
Other inspiration comes from other product designs that we transfer across to other things.
For example: The iPhone is a touch pad for making phone calls, using the internet and all sorts of apps.
We can transfer that design to a personal handset to send health information about a patient to doctors and hospitals. We can add all sorts of different apps to remind the patient about hospital appointments, medication reminders etc.
Inspiration can come at any time. You could be at a football match and something out of the blue could make you think of a new idea or innovation. Or you could be at the cinema, beach or swimming pool. Inspiration isn’t predictable and can come at anytime. It can even happen when you are sleeping. 🙂
Mostly engineering is about solving problems, improving something, finding a new or clever or easy way etc. My area of work is ‘biomedical engineering’.
Most of my projects have a reason, an idea and a theory behind it. For example currently I am working on developing a device which tests artificial knees. That means before artificial knees are fitted into people’s bodies, we make sure that they are working fine. For making sure artificial knees will be fine, we test them in our device.
So for me, inspiration usually comes from the necessity to develop something which will help people.