Silent Giants!

Friday, Feb. 11, 2024

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday!

Super Bowl, this uniquely American annual extravaganza, along with its pending joys of victory and agonies of defeat, is upon us this Sunday. For us residents of Missouri, the excitement of the last two years is quite vivid, where our Kansas City Chiefs giant players are all primed to showcase their best moves and creative strategies.

Another national event is also celebrated this Sunday where the silent giants behind life-changing advances in our technological world are recognized and quietly celebrated. Yes, Sunday, February 11, is National Inventors' Day. Cleverly, the day was selected to commemorate the birthday of Thomas Edison, a giant among the most prolific inventors. We recognize the discoverers, creators and possibility thinkers of the past who have enhanced our lives in immeasurable ways. Further, Sunday is also International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Although, as I have said before, let’s hope for the day that the mention of “Women and Girls in Science” will become as unremarkable as saying “Men and Boys in Science”!

Nonetheless, each year, since the inception of the first patent office in 1802, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office receives a plethora of applications for creative work including patent and trademark requests. The office serves as a valuable resource for inventors of all types.

Here at S&T, from our founding, education, research and innovation have been tightly linked. A published list of the world’s top 2% of most-cited scientists includes 58 of our faculty and scientific staff for career-long impact in scientific contributions. And 72 researchers affiliated with S&T are included in the top 2% of most-cited scientists for single-year impact. Included in the list are 23 Curators’ Distinguished Professors, two members of the National Academy of Inventors, one member of the National Academy of Engineering, two fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and 10 current or former directors of Missouri S&T research centers.

In fact, Missouri S&T has an extensive record of inventiveness with well over 1,300 invention disclosures and nearly 400 issued patents worldwide since 1971. So far this year, our researchers have disclosed 40 discoveries through our Technology Transfer Office. This is an increase of 21% over FY23 disclosures, which, in turn, had an increase of over 30% compared to FY22.

The list of our faculty and students who routinely conduct research that results in invention disclosure is extensive. Their inventions, ranging from lifesaving concepts to clever hardware and software design, to new materials, to life extension of existing products, have resulted in the establishment of new enterprises and, in turn, significant royalty revenue for the university.

To name just a couple, Dr. Delbert E. Day, Distinguished Curators’ Professor emeritus of ceramic engineering, is a National Academy of Inventors Fellow. He is a prolific inventor whose work with specialty glasses has led to treatments for cancer, bone tissue regeneration and wound care. His work with bioactive glasses led him to spin off a company, MO-SCI. Dr. Terry Brewer, a Rolla-based entrepreneur, launched Brewer Science and gained international acclaim after his discovery of anti-reflective coatings, which transformed the development and manufacturing of materials in the global microelectronics industry.

S&T alumni have also been prolific in identifying a need and inventing solutions. Joseph Straeter (500 patents), Dan Scott (over 100 patents), Lawson G. Wideman (over 100 patents), and Robert L. Banks (64 patents) are among many to highlight. From the early years of the university, many graduates of S&T have established successful businesses, products or services based on emerging technologies and their own inventions. 

For over 150 years, our educators have played an important role in encouraging curiosity and research leading to discovery and invention. They have fostered “imagineering” and possibility thinking for our students to envision beyond the discovery of “what is” to the engineering of what “could be.” And, as we celebrate our national silent giant inventors and contemplate how far they have advanced our lives, we see more clearly the exciting new opportunities to discover and then invent. As exciting as the big game is in Las Vegas on Sunday, bigger gains are in the making by researchers and tinkerers across the country to ensure that tomorrow is a better day than today.



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Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
Chancellor | 573-341-4116

206 Parker Hall, 300 West 13th Street, Rolla, MO 65409-0910