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Understanding Why Designs Work — or Don’t — is Important

September 4, 2018

Just because a design works once doesn’t mean that the research and development is done.

That’s why, Professor Sarah Kurtz argues in a new commentary in the prestigious journal Nature Energy , it’s important to do the quality assurance science that shows why products sometimes don’t work.

“If people want to take their science to the next level, they need to think about the implications of what happens when their innovations go into production,” Kurtz said. “What comes off the manufacturing line isn’t always going to work the way it is meant to.”

She cited a high-profile example of the problems that arose when quality assurance failed the Samsung company and it had to recall Galaxy smartphones because the batteries overheated, caused small fires and even exploded in some cases.

“This is an extreme example of how inadequate quality assurance can harm both the public and the company. Fortunately, the phones didn’t cause any deaths, but they did cause multiple hospitalizations,” Kurtz wrote. “Further, Samsung estimated in 2016 that the recall would cost them over $5 billion, while updated estimates are closer to $17 billion.”