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Pittsburgh FRC Seminar: Careers In Intellectual Property

On Saturday, November 9, Braxton Davis and I presented a lecture entitled “Careers in Intellectual Property” to engineering students and other interested parties at the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Region II Fall Regional Conference (FRC) in Pittsburgh, PA. Mr. Davis is Director of the NSBE Intellectual Property Special Interest Group (IP SIG) and I am the Programs Chair, as well as being the founder of Endless IP, a non-profit education company.

The mission of Endless IP is to instruct aspiring Entrepreneurs how to use Intellectual Property to protect ideas. There are many IP careers open to engineering and science students such as Inventor, Fabricator/Manufacturer, Patent Examiner, Patent Searcher, Technical Specialist, Draftsman/Illustrator, Patent Agent, and Patent Attorney.

In college, engineering and science students are taught the building blocks of science and innovation. They are taught how physical materials are constructed and combined to form useful products and processes. They are encouraged to create innovations to improve existing systems. Without being taught how to protect those innovations and different roles they can fill within the IP space, their education is incomplete. With this incomplete education scientists and engineers are relegated to work for others to further the interests of companies that hire them and are not able to pursue their own visions in this changing world.

This circumstance is a major drawback to the engineering curricula in the United States, and one reason why U.S. companies are falling behind the rest of the world in technologies such as 5G, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, and other realms. Patent and Intellectual Property Law are usually taught in law school, but that is not the domain of most engineers.

There is no one to blame for this circumstance. The engineering and science fields have evolved in this way. Professors at science and engineering schools are necessarily Ph.Ds. They have achieved their academic credentials through the process of understanding scientific and engineering concepts at the most fundamental level so that they can properly teach their students. Professors in these fields are taught to pursue research grants and academic papers in order to push the boundaries of scientific thought and development. They are rewarded with tenure, recognition, and more grants. Engineering school has become an academic enterprise, missing the business outlook.

After students are taught engineering and scientific principles, applications, and the art of design, technology companies swoop in to hire these students and teach them to apply their knowledge to further the aims of those companies.

That is where we come in. Endless IP is in partnership with organizations such as NSBE and area colleges to fill that gap, to provide the missing curriculum that will enable engineers and scientists to profit from their IP and pursue careers in the field. By doing so, a more diverse and robust workforce and technology companies will be formed in the United States and beyond.

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