US Patent Office Visit

Patent examiners spend their days critically evaluating the latest innovations, to determine if they are useful, novel, and non-obvious. When one of our students asked them what daily life is like as a patent examiner they responded, we basically write a 10-15 page report every 2-3 days.

Thankfully the patent office lets them escape from behind their computers a few times a year to meet with companies, research labs, and other entities. These visits help them see what is new and exciting in their specialty area.

We were lucky enough to host one of these teams this past week in the AMP Lab. Tim Stanis, a primary examiner from Art Unit 3786 that specializes in exoskeletons, orthoses, passive motion rehabilitation devices, and biomechanical technology led the visit. He was joined by nine other examiners.

One of the patent examiners in a red checkered shirt answers students questions. He is seated at a table with hands clasped in front of him.

Our lab demoed our latest creations in orthoses, biofeedback systems, and smartphone sensing. Patrick Aubin from the VA Hospital, Murray Maitland from Rehab Medicine, Chet Moritz from Electrical Engineering, and Tapo Bhattacharjee also shared their latest work.

We ended the session with a Q&A Panel for summer students to learn about career opportunities as a patent examiner and advice for new innovators. Most of the examiners had an undergraduate or master’s degree in engineering. They emphasized that working for the patent office is a great, flexible career path. As a patent examiner they are able to work remotely, have flexible hours, and enjoy other benefits such as having law school paid for.

Students listen attentively to the Q&A Panel. Some look bored, some look amused, and one is even taking notes, or maybe doodling!

For new innovators, they emphasized the importance of understanding the patent landscape. They recommended using Google Patents! Patents can seem intimidating. They recommended starting with the pictures and focusing on the claims. They also emphasized the importance of having a team. Translating technology requires team members with technical, business, and clinical backgrounds.

For our part, we were excited to meet real, live patent examiners. We appreciated seeing their faces and enjoyed sharing our work with them.

Perry Initiative: Inspiring future female engineers and orthopaedic surgeons

Seattle Children’s Hospital hosted the Perry Initiative this weekend to inspire women to pursue careers in engineering and orthopaedic surgery. Dr. Jacquelin Perry was one of the first ten women orthopaedic surgeons in the country and has been a mentor to countless women and men throughout her career. She is known for her work quantifying human movement using tools such as motion analysis, electromyography, and ultrasound. She developed new surgical procedures including methods to straighten spines and inventing the ‘halo’ to immobilize the spine, neck, and head.

Learning to fix bones with external fixation at the Perry Initiative.This weekend, 25 women from local high schools, joined surgeons and engineers at Seattle Children’s to learn about common medical tasks and cutting-edge medical technology. They tried their hand at casting, suturing, external/internal bone
fixation, and rotator cuff repair.

From the Perry Initiative: “Engineers and orthopaedic surgeons work hand-in-hand to develop safe and effective implants for repairing broken bones, torn ligaments, and worn-out joints. Strong partnerships between surgeons and engineers are essential for improving the performance of orthopaedic implants and creating solutions to unmet clinical needs.”

We agree! Here’s to many future collaborations with diverse teams of engineers and surgeons.