Patents and Paradigms
Article reprinted from "Ingenium 2008, The UP Alumni Engineers' Digest"
Our salary as a teacher is so low, that we have to work extra such as being a consultant in order to support a family. Balancing work as a teacher and a consultant is difficult. Both jobs are demanding. In the end, we run the risk of becoming a bad teacher and an incompetent consultant.
To earn extra money, I joined a research contest, where it was possible to get as much as PhP400,000 in prize money. It was not easy as preparation required a lot of time and effort. I was able to win PhP100,000 but was not satisfied with the judging; it was more like a lottery. After the hard work, it became frustrating.
I think the best way for an engineering faculty to earn money for the rest of his/her life is to develop inventions, patent them, and collect royalties. The fuel saving diesel additive derived from waste materials developed by a group of students and teachers from the chemical engineering department is about to be commercialized. The wastewater treatment system I developed is already being commercialized. Soon, I will be able to derive crude oil from garbage. Patents for these processes are being applied for. Some inventors insist on commercializing the invention themselves but only very few succeed. It is best to leave the commercialization to the experts and investors.
Invention and patents have a direct effect on the development of a country. The more patents a country has, the more developed the country is (such as US, Japan, and England). The faculty and the College can contribute the country's economy by patenting their inventions. If appropriate, patents should first be applied for instead of publishing the research results at once.
Then the problem boils at how to be creative and innovative. To think creatively is not easy to do. Our educational system discourages it: only one answer to one question is accepted instead of encouraging different options in problem solving. We need to train ourselves. Hundreds of techniques are available; one is TRIZ (Russian acronym of The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving), developed in Russia by Altshuller and now applied by many large corporations, such as Chrysler Corp., Emerson Electric, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Johnson & Johnson, Rockwell International, Xerox Corporation, etc. As Einstein said, the most important step in problem solving, is defining the problem. It is a difficult step that emphasizes the importance of research. After 20 years of research, I developed a technique called "Probing Paradigms," which can be used for idea generation and evaluation. I use this as a tool in my classes and I am now ready to offer this to companies. Contact me at email@example.com
I propose the following system for the UP College of Engineering: First, a training program on developing creativity and innovativeness among faculty members should be instituted. Each invention could be initiated by an individual faculty, a group of faculty members from the same department, or from different departments, or collaboration with faculty members from other colleges. Undergraduate projects can result in a patent for the students and the adviser. Masters and PhD students can share the patent application with the respective advisers. Through the university licensing office, the technology can be disseminated with the appropriate royalty.
Let us promote creativity and innovation. This is a sure way to develop the country's economy and uplift the lives of our people.