In an era where innovation and entrepreneurship are prized concepts, the term “inventor” might — at first blush — seem a bit quaint. But invention is still very much a viable skill. In fact, it’s seen by many as the cornerstone of innovation. And it’s something that’s especially valued in academic research settings.
Dr. Jay Goldberg is being recognized for his considerable work as an inventor in academia. Goldberg is a clinical professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Healthcare Technologies Management program at Marquette University and the Medical College of Wisconsin. Most recently, he’s been elected a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors — the highest professional distinction for academic inventors.
Goldberg previously worked in a variety of private sector roles involving research and development for medical devices. He holds six patents for urological devices.
Unlike the image of inventors being solitary figures inside a garage or basement, that's mostly not the case. "Inventions are created by teams of people. Could be two people. Could be 10 people. Could be more. It's really a team effort because it requires so many different areas of knowledge to come together, and really, very few people have all the knowledge they need to get a patent," he explains.
When Goldberg was about 4-years-old, his parents bought him a pack of Legos — you know, those interlocking plastic building-block toys. "Back then, they didn't come with instructions on how to build things. You just had to use your imagination to design and build things," Goldberg says. "I honestly think that's what got me interested in science, engineering, that kind of thing."
At Marquette University, Goldberg leads a senior design course for biomedical engineers that aims to get them to develop solutions to real-world problems. Goldberg is also co-principal investigator with Marquette's Opus College of Engineering KEEN grant that focuses on developing an entrepreneurial mindset in students and faculty.
"What we're trying to do is create engineers who want to know more. They want to meet the customer. They want to observe the customer using the product. So, they can observe first-hand, what the problem is," Goldberg says.
So, how can you encourage today's kids to be inventors? "Allow them to kind of imagine, and be curious about things. How does the world work? Making it cool to be interested in science and math, so students don't shy away from that," Goldberg says.
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