Purdue Alumnus September/October 2012 : Page 29

Purdue students build business acuity, patent discoveries in record numbers. L eah Kenttämaa-Squires (LA’10) was four years old when she meticulously disassembled a vanity mirror in her family’s bath-room. “I wanted to know how it worked” she says. “I look back at this story from my childhood as a sign of my future as a designer and innovator.” Kenttämaa-Squires is the type of lifelong inventor David Ross (ME’1893) would have wanted on his team. Perhaps a dedication in the 1946 Fred C. Kelly biography of David Ross, Modern Pioneer , defines this best: “To students with curiosity about the unknown and the initiative to apply new knowledge, the kind that David Ross was always seeking.” In fact, Ross — inventor, entrepre-neur, and business leader — would be impressed by Purdue’s 21st century students. Undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines are inventing, patenting, and commercial-izing discoveries, in addition to fulfilling their academic commitments. In fiscal year 2008–09, 218 Purdue students patented discoveries through the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization. Last year, 355 students filed patents through the office. “Those figures equate to a 62 percent increase in patent filing by Purdue students in this period,” says Joseph B. Hornett, senior vice president, treasurer, and chief operating officer of the Purdue Research Foundation, which oversees patent processing and IP protection for Purdue discoveries. “Purdue students have always been strong in their desire to discover new and better ways to build and create, and now we are seeing that interest in the form of patenting and commercializing their inventions before they graduate.” Hornett attributes this increase to a greater understanding about the impor-tance of protecting intellectual property, Purdue’s programs that support entrepre-neurship and researchers who encourage students to co-discover inventions. Purdue’s Certificate in Entrepre-neurship and Innovation Program has awarded nearly 1,000 certificates since its launch in 2005. More than 3,500 students have taken the first required course in the program, which is administered through the Office of the Provost. “The certificate program comple-ments all majors and is designed to help students who are interested in innova-tion, leadership, and entrepreneurship to experience real-world business prac-tices,” says Tim Sands, Purdue’s acting president. “We are witnessing a steady increase in student entrepreneurship and students who want to invent or lead discoveries in established organizations.” In 2012, the Purdue Office of Tech-nology Commercialization held the first student inventors recognition reception. “The level of knowledge, passion, and tenacity of Purdue student entrepreneurs is amazing,” says Elizabeth Hart-Wells, assistant vice president of the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization. “These students are taking full class loads and spending what free time they have inventing and exploring how they can patent their discoveries.” purdue alumnus 29 www.purduealumnus.org

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