Tuesday, April 3, 2012

TED: Regina Dugan: From mach-20 glider to humming bird drone

 http://www.ted.com/talks/regina_dugan_from_mach_20_glider_to_humming_bird_drone.html

"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" asks Regina Dugan, then director of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In this breathtaking talk she describes some of the extraordinary projects -- a robotic hummingbird, a prosthetic arm controlled by thought, and, well, the internet -- that her agency has created by not worrying that they might fail. (Followed by a Q&A with TED's Chris Anderson)

With a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Caltech and master's and bachelor's degrees from Virginia Tech, Dr. Dugan is a business woman, inventor, and technology developer who rolls up her sleeves and goes directly to a problem whether it's in the lab or in Afghanistan.  She's been called a "technogeek" with a knack for inspiring creative thinking, an artist-engineer.  Many credit Dugan as a scientific coach, mentor, cheerleader and taskmaster.  As a 2010 New York Times article explained, there are four stages to an encounter with Regina Dugan - "being a little scared, really scared, frustrated and then enlightened."  Vision alone is insufficient for Dugan. Rather, vision must be paired with the power of execution in order to make impossible things possible.

Note from Nathan Smith:  I share this with you with the thought - "What if we could provide an environment for our students in which failure is not frowned upon - but rather an expected part of the learning process?  Students are so intimidated by grades - could we provide them a space to learn, where failure does not count against them - before evaluation and grading take place?"  Just thinking aloud here.  Listen to Dr. Dugan as she talks about the fear of failing in the TED talk - you'll be impressed.