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Inventor’s Studio, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Professor Burt Swersey thinks brainstorming is silly. “Some people think you can just sit there and think of good ideas,” he says, but the engineering students in his Inventor’s Studio class at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, will do no such thing. Before Swersey allows students to get their inventive wheels spinning, they must first spend weeks on intensive “problem-finding.” Once they identify a distinct problem to tackle, they get to the fun stuff: solving it. The goal is for each student to finish the class with a patented invention; Swersey holds more than 15 patents himself. Among start-ups incubated in the Inventor’s Studio are an organic home insulation company and a fire extinguisher training program.