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Garey High School InvenTeam® Granted U.S. Patent
With support from the Lemelson-MIT Program and Microsoft’s MakeWhatsNext Patent Program, the Garey High School (Pomona Unified School District, Pomona, California) InvenTeam was granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Garey High School students and teachers on the school’s 2018 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam are now inventors listed on a U.S. patent. Their invention allows individuals with diabetes to self-monitor foot health and was granted a utility patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on July 12, 2022.
“Finding a real-world problem that directly impacted our community inspired my team to learn how to become inventors,” said Katia Avila Pindeo, a member of the Garey High School InvenTeam. “Our interest towards invention has sparked curiosity in others within our school and city, but most importantly we have shown them that invention is possible for students who are passionate about making a difference.”
In addition to Katia, the Garey High School inventors included Brianna Berdin, Sushil Bohara, Jia Bragado, Evelyn Casas, Melody Sanchez, Anh Tran, and Diana Valencia and their teachers, Antonio Gamboa and Alex Ruper.
The story of how the Garey InvenTeam came to be is as inspiring as their invention itself. Antonio Gamboa who led the InvenTeam along with Alex Ruper credits the formation of the team to the desire of students wanting to help others. “When one student simply expressed the willingness to ‘invent something’ with a sincere interest and desire to help others, this gave a true meaning to my teaching goal to make learning purposeful. Therefore, we challenged students with the task of solving a real community-based problem. We empowered them with the idea of helping their families and their community,” explains Mr. Gamboa. “In return, we witnessed how students collaborated and focused on contributing their own personal, technical, and academic skills to serve a common goal.”
The Lemelson-MIT Program’s national grant initiative, InvenTeams, offers high school students an opportunity to experience inventing. The 19-year-old national grants initiative has worked with almost 300 teams comprised of students, teachers, and mentors. The InvenTeams initiative is one of several of the program’s invention education initiatives. "Garey High School exemplifies the ongoing and expanding opportunities that students experience when we award InvenTeam grants. I was a new faculty member at MIT when I applied for my first patent. These students have learned about protecting their intellectual property years earlier in their careers, giving them a head-start on a possible life-long career as an inventor. Most importantly they learned how science and engineering can solve important problems,” explains Professor Michael Cima, faculty director of the Lemelson-MIT Program and prolific inventor.
Program staff connected Microsoft MakeWhatsNext Patent Program to the Garey High School’s InvenTeam following the successful prototyping of their invention. The MakeWhatsNext Patent Program offers female inventors and their teams pro bono legal support to protect their intellectual property inventions. The inventors work with volunteer attorneys, paralegals, and engineers. With this legal support, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted U.S. Patent No. 11,382,564 B2 on July 12, 2022, to the team of seven female student inventors, one male student inventor and two teachers.
Microsoft’s MakeWhatsNext Patent Program plays an important role in bringing equity to access in acquiring U.S. patents. The United States Patent and Trademark Office published a 2020 update on U.S. women inventor-patentees, Progress and Potential, which featured key findings about the number of new female patentees. While more women are entering and staying active in the patent system, the women inventor rate which is the share of women among all U.S. inventor-patentees was only 12.8% in 2019.
“The patent system is one of the greatest libraries of innovation in the world. Every innovator—no matter what background—should have the opportunity to contribute to this library that represents freedom of innovation. We’re grateful that we had the chance to help this team through the MakeWhatsNext Patent Program and hope many more aspiring inventors follow in their footsteps!” says Dan Choi, Assistant General Counsel at Microsoft.
About Pamona Unified School District (PUSD)
The Pomona Unified School District, in partnership with parents and community, provides a well-rounded, challenging, and quality educational program that develops character and integrity. Students are equipped and empowered through academic opportunities, career and technical experiences, and whole-student supports needed for college and career success. A service culture of operational excellence, collaboration, and continuous improvement empowers all to flourish with trust and pride. As a world-class educational system, PUSD ensures that every student excels in academic and career pathways that sustain personal growth and contribute to society. To quote the Garey High School vision statement, “Our efforts are empowered and inspired by our desire and expectations to prepare students to successfully transition from high school to higher education, career readiness, and the competitive workforce.”
About the Lemelson-MIT Program
The Lemelson-MIT Program (LMIT) is a national leader in efforts to prepare the next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs. Our work focuses on the expansion of opportunities for people to learn ways inventors find and solve problems that matter to improve lives. Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion aims to remedy historic inequities among those who develop inventions, protect their intellectual property and commercialize their creations.
Jerome H. Lemelson, one of U.S. history’s most prolific inventors, and his wife Dorothy founded the Lemelson-MIT Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. It is funded by The Lemelson Foundation and administered by the School of Engineering at MIT, an institution with a strong ongoing commitment to creating meaningful opportunities for K-14 STEM education.