Staff Spotlight: Engineering in the Business of Invention


Staff Spotlight: Engineering in the Business of Invention

February 26, 2014

From lab scientists and patent lawyers to nuclear physicists and engineers, Intellectual Ventures employees share a passion for invention. Much like our inventive pursuits, our talent is also diverse.

K’Andrea Bickerstaff, director of engineering at IV, brings expertise to the business of invention—everything from tablets and laptops to servers and data centers. She’s also one of IV’s veteran supporters of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for youth. She often volunteers in the community to help teens, especially girls, discover their own path toward becoming future engineers or inventors.

How did you find your path to becoming an engineer, and eventually to IV?

As a teenager I chose engineering as a career path because I knew I never wanted to be doing the same thing for very long. Early in my career, I planned and designed hardware—processors, microcontrollers, systems-on-chips—that went into computers, phones, and other electronics. 

Today, I work with patents and inventions. It’s like being a detective; I look for clues and evidence to anticipate how a patented invention may be used in future products and industries.

What’s most interesting about being an engineer in the business of invention?

There are always new technologies and new topics to work on, and that keeps my job interesting. Technology constantly moves ahead, and I enjoy that my role evolves with new innovations. I’m also excited about the many entrepreneurial opportunities for IV. Not only are we continuously inventing in new and different spaces, but there’s also the potential that our work will lead to spin-off companies.

What advice do you have for inventors or aspiring engineers?

I strongly encourage everyone—students, engineers, all creative minds—to make inventing and filing for patents part of your lives. You’ll encounter big and small problems, challenges, and inefficiencies every day. You may have the solution—a widget, product, or design—that helps yourself and others. And, your idea and the resultant patent may be very valuable in the future.

Expanding Your Horizons Workshop

Photo: K’Andrea gives middle school-aged girls a chance to disassemble laptops, cell phones, and other electronics during an Expanding Your Horizons workshop. Girls identified different parts and learned how the technology they use every day works.

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