Fermilab Inventor Awards ceremony celebrates technological progress

Fermilab honored its employee inventors in a ceremony and reception on Nov. 18. Photo: Reidar Hahn

On Nov. 18, Fermilab recognized 50 current and former laboratory employees for their technological innovations, honoring them with the Fermilab Inventor Awards.

Hosted by Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer Manager Cherri Schmidt, the ceremony celebrated employees who earned patents and submitted records of invention between 2000 and 2012. It also represented the renewal of the laboratory’s effort to foster technological ingenuity and to serve as an ignition chamber for invention.

Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer congratulated the awardees, noting their great dedication in preparing records of invention and patent applications and calling them true champions of innovation. He also said that one of his goals for Fermilab was to be more progressive in protecting and identifying intellectual property that may have commercial value.

“We need a laboratory culture that values patents and copyrights on an equal basis with publications,” Lockyer said. “I believe we have a great deal of untapped potential at Fermilab. By tapping into this treasure trove of innovation and invention, we can help drive new jobs, new businesses and entire new industries — and we’ll all feel really good about that.”

Lockyer said he also plans to make the Illinois Accelerator Research Center, currently under construction at Fermilab, self-sustaining over time. IARC is a planned research facility where scientists, engineers and industrial partners will work together to develop accelerator technology in areas beyond particle physics.

Cherri Schmidt told Monday’s ceremony’s attendees that the spirit of innovation is part of being American, so much so that the power of Congress to “promote the progress of science and useful arts” is captured in Article I of the U.S. Constitution.

“I was told when I joined the lab in June that Fermilab didn’t do patents,” Schmidt said. “Yet here we are today to recognize 50 people who did just that — at least thought about it and tried to pursue protection for their important, useful arts.”

View the award recipients.