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A Patent On Your Resume, Or Encouraging Creativity Among Technology Students

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.47.1 - 5.47.10



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Natalie D. Segal

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship Division (in formation) Session #3654

A Patent on Your Résumé, or Encouraging Creativity Among Technology Students Natalie D. Segal Ward College of Technology at the University of Hartford


In our Advanced Technical Communications class, the students are formed into teams that must invent a new object or create a significant improvement in an already existing object, write a formal business proposal to convince a company to produce the object, and make a presentation in which they summarize their proposals. Many of these objects are patentable, and so, working with an intellectual property attorney, we teach the patent process as part of the class. In this paper, we discuss the organization of the project itself and how we teach the patent process, as well as how students respond both to the project and the possibility of graduating with the words “patent pending” on their résumés.

How We Begin

The ability to work on a team is unquestionably a required skill for anyone working in industry today. Consequently, Ward College of Technology students who take English 481, Advanced Technical Communications, are required to work on a team project. The project is actually one of a series of possible capstone projects for undergraduate Technology students, but since all Ward students must take EN 481, all students will be involved in a design project. This one involves the invention of a “truly new”1 object, one that has to be feasible. In other words, each team has to design something totally new that is possible, useful, and marketable, given existing technology. No faster-than-light ships, no molecular transporters, only useful items that can actually be made now. The teams don’t have to build a working model, though some teams do; they simply have to prove possibility with block diagrams.

Once they design the object, they prepare a written proposal in which they convince the instructor, posing as the head of a midsized manufacturing company, that their product would be a profitable one for the company to produce. And, finally, they must present a summary of their proposal in front of the class and invited guests, including other, technical faculty members.

The students approach the project with some doubts about the possibility of developing truly new objects. The fact is, more than six million patents2 have been issued in the United States so the odds of coming up with something truly novel in this class are not strong. Although the teams did and still do occasionally develop a truly new object (for instance, a tool for electricians to use in junction boxes to accommodate cabling), most often they discover that their ideas are improvements on already existing objects. By the

Segal, N. D. (2000, June), A Patent On Your Resume, Or Encouraging Creativity Among Technology Students Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8619

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