At the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Symposium held earlier this month in Maryland, “brilliant scientists took some time to be kids,” said John Villa, Director of Acquisitions at Intellectual Ventures. He attended the IV-sponsored symposium along with IV’s Philip Eckhoff, principal research scientist at the IV Lab; Patrick Ennis, global head of technology for IV’s Invention Development Fund; and Casey Tegreene, executive vice president of IV’s Invention Science Fund.
The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation provides 5-year fellowships to students pursuing PhDs in applied sciences. There have been more than 1,200 Hertz Fellows over the past 50 years, including two Nobel Prize winners in physics, three Air Force generals, and our own Founder and CEO, Nathan Myhrvold.
Every Hertz Fellows symposium begins with an engineering session, but not with your usual assignment: this year’s design project was built around paper airplanes. Followed by a more traditional agenda, the symposium covered thoughtful poster sessions about the Hertz Fellows’ current research projects, conversations between Nobel prize winners and Ph.D. candidates, and a three day exchange of novel ideas—from mobile robots to infectious disease modeling software.
“The common theme of the symposium, the talks, and the poster sessions was the fundamental role of innovation in economic and national security, and most importantly, quality of life,” says Eckhoff. The symposium also paid particular attention to the “real world” experience students and scientists are seeking to pursue their academic interests, and not just through venture capital funding. Many of these aspiring entrepreneurs are talking with tech transfer offices at major universities and seeking connections to companies that buy, license, and practice invention.
And last but not least, the Symposium reminded these scientists to make more paper airplanes. Folding pieces of paper into flying machines is where every great rocket scientist gets their start.