Invention Interest Group: Polymer Scientist Interested in Innovation
You are a scientist who works in research and development for a chemical company to improve the use of polymers in new technologies.
Your Background and Biography
Discovery, invention, and innovation are the passions in your life. You love to investigate all sorts of problems, whether they are practical, everyday issues or abstract theoretical challenges, with the rigorous application of the scientific process. You’re fascinated by the process of discovery and invention. You love to read the biographies of important inventors in order to understand how they overcame challenges and to gain inspiration for your own professional pursuits.
Your mother and father were both medical doctors, and you grew up learning how physicians use observation and deduction to diagnose problems and prescribe solutions. You internalized this scientific way of thinking, and you set your sights on a career in medicine. However, you found your initial pre-med classes unchallenging. You noticed that many of your fellow freshmen were dropping out of their engineering majors to join you in the biology program, and you decided to try this more difficult program. Engineering turned out to be the right move. After graduation from college you continued your academic pursuits and earned your PhD in polymer chemistry and physics.
You then went to work for a major technology company, where you applied your problem-solving skills developing plastics that improve the performance of electronics. During your 10 years as a research scientist your innovations and achievements have helped advance the speed, efficiency, and cost of many important technologies.
Your fascination with the process of innovation drives your work. When given the opportunity, you left your position as a scientist to lead the research-and-development department at your firm, where you seek to study and improve the innovation process. You’re interested in where innovation and invention come from, how breakthrough ideas happen, and what allows for successes in the field of scientific discovery. You’ve compiled so much interesting material in this investigation, which began merely as a personal hobby, that you’ve begun writing a book about how the process of innovation works.
You’re passionate about both plastics and innovation, and you want to make sure that the process of innovation is more widely understood and appreciated. You see the public hearing about the Environmental Protection Agency’s new regulation as an ideal forum for bringing greater knowledge of the connections between science, plastics, and innovation to the public. You also see it as your responsibility to make sure that the regulatory bodies of the government have sufficient appreciation for the value of invention, innovation, and discovery.
Your goal at this hearing is to convince the Regulators to include the Invention Interest Group’s recommendations in their final regulation. To make this argument effectively, you must:
- Complete the assigned readings listed at the bottom of this page
- Work closely with the other members of your group to develop clear answers to the Regulators’ questions
- Make use of as much specific information as possible to develop strong arguments that plastics need to be proven safe rather than assumed safe and that the only way to protect against the effects of toxins is to prevent the production of potentially toxic plastics
- Read as much as you can about your position and the positions of the other groups
- Complete written reflections on your character, interest group, and readings as assigned
Your Victory Objectives
- You will receive 10 points if the Regulators select your group’s proposal as the final regulation
- The Regulators will rank the interest groups by how well their goals are represented in the final regulation. You will receive between 1 and 5 points based on how the Invention Interest Group is ranked and how well the regulation reflects your goals
Industry Group Sources
- “Interview with Bob Kenworthy,” video.
Your Individual Sources
- “Plastic Logic: From Innovation to Impact,” University of Cambridge Research Features, August 1, 2009.
- Select one article from the The Case of Plastics bibliography recommended for the Invention Interest Group. Read the article and write two paragraphs summarizing the article and how it will be useful to you in the upcoming debate.