Purdue’s record number of patents shows students want to take charge of their own lives, according to the Research Foundation chief operating officer.
Last year, 355 students filed patents in the Office of Technology Commercialization.
Joe Hornett, senior vice president, treasurer and chief operating officer, said it’s a sign of the times that students are more inclined to get involved in innovative research and entrepreneurial pathways.
“I think there’s an innate feeling that, ‘I’d rather be the captain of my own ship, in command of my own destiny,’” Hornett said. “So, that basically leaves the idea of being an entrepreneur.”
Hornett has promoted this idea to students who are looking for an opportunity to be creative and daring.
“First thing they ought to do is strike out on their own, and they ought to do it immediately because it’s the best time in their lives to do that,” Hornett said. “But still have that college degree that trains your mind and is your fall-back plan in terms of that traditional job.”
He said Purdue students have done just that. A wide range of innovations to receive provisional patents have been discovered, from the “quick and dirty” software application development to agricultural inventions that come off of soybeans.
Steven Ouellette, a graduate student in the College of Pharmacy, is part of a group that has a provisional patent for cancer drug-screening tools.
“I feel like the best way to bring basic research science to the public is through the commercialization
process,” Ouellete said. “In order for any of our basic discoveries to be useful, we have to go through the process of patenting.”
Ouellette added Purdue’s resources for those interested in commercialization and entrepreneurial work have been conducive to any success he’s had.
This is also true for Josh Petty, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts, who started his own company, Comity Web Development, in 2010. Petty said the company began after him and his two partners combined their blogging ideas and interest in web development.
“We came to the idea that, ‘Hey, we could do this for other people,’” Petty said. “We really liked the idea of making websites, so we started growing our client base.”
Comity Web Development’s clientele includes organizations, such as the Fort Wayne branch of Habitat for Humanity and Colette, the clothing store on State Street.
“If you take that corporate route, you can never really turn back,” Petty said. “For us, once we graduate, there’s that excitement of where we can really take this business. You’re taking a step in the dark ... but you can’t fail. Any failure you meet on this path just leads to more success.”
Students interested in innovation, commercialization or entrepreneurship can reach out to resources, such as the Office of Technology Commercialization, the Docking Station and the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.