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The question


Last week a business survey reported that a high proportion of senior executives in blue chip companies got their best ideas in the bath. Where, then, do civil engineers have their most innovative thoughts?

I get my best ideas and inspiration in a number of scenarios, including: when I'm commuting, looking out of the train window during my 50-minute journey through the beautiful, rolling Ayrshire countryside between the west coast of Scotland and Glasgow; in the local pool when I'm swimming (not much else to do when you are swimming is there?); and relaxing on the couch with the headphones on, listening to soothing classical music, drinking coffee and scoffing chocolate. However, I must agree that soaking in a hot bath, frothing up one's 'Matey' is a great way to stimulate the old grey matter.

Kevin McFarlane, project engineer, Scotland

Ideas involving planning or team-building are generally formulated in the shower or on the way to work. Creative thinking and problem-solving usually involves discussion with the team. The best ideas are a result of serendipity. I have regularly found this to be the case when developing software for data processing and QA procedures.

Russell Ramsey, principal engineer, High Wycombe

In bed - between 3.00am and 4.00am.

Tom Moss, projects director, St Albans

I get my best ideas on the train on the way to work (journey time approximately one hour). For instance - what to write in a reference for a departing employee, reappraisal of organisation within the department, answers to tricky technical problems.

Mike Paul, senior engineer, Denmark

A lot of my best ideas usually spring in bed on Sunday nights - a time when I usually lay wide awake as a result of being asleep all afternoon after a heavy session in the local.

Colin Radford, senior infrastructure engineer, East Midlands

Playing with a koosh ball.

Claire Symes, engineering writer, Tunbridge Wells

My best ideas usually come to me just as I relax in front of the box or I'm nodding off. If the idea is important, then I write it down so that I don't keep myself awake trying to remember it.

Mark Philpotts, civil engineer, south east London

The bath is pretty high on the list because you need to be relaxed for ideas to flow. The car is also a good place for some reason, though not when I'm on a motorway obviously.

Ian Huntington, director, Watford

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