African-American Youth Inventor Workshops Back by Popular Demand

Spruce Fraser, St. Louis Public Library

The African-American Youth Inventor Workshops were so popular, they will be offered again this April 2015. To enhance the workshops they will be held at one of St. Louis Public Library’s Branches that has a computer training lab so that computers are ready to use by those attending. Once again, there will be guest speakers including Dr. Jones and myself. Participants will also be shown how to use the USPTO web site and PubEast to search for patents.
Professor A. Wayne Jones teaches entrepreneurship and how to write business plans to local Saint Louis community college students. He is an international speaker, lecturer, consultant, minister, and educator who has addressed government officials and business, religious, and education leaders from all over the world. He is a native of St. Louis, committed to uplifting and enlightening every life he touches, particularly the African American and wider Community. Dr. Jones holds a Ph.D. in Adult Education with Emphasis in Learning Styles, MBA with an emphasis in Marketing, and BLS in Organization Development.

During the past twelve years I have assisted his students on how to use our Saint Louis Public Library business resources to help them write a business plan.
Although we originally thought of teaching a workshop jointly, using young African-American inventors as mentors, it became clearer to us that bringing in adult African-American inventors, patent attorneys, and patent examiners would be more practical; since Dr. A. Wayne Jones is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NESBE).

Last year, we created those patent and trademark workshops to encourage young African-Americans to become inventors and entrepreneurs and provide mentors to our Saint Louis African-American youths. Hoping it would excite them to develop an idea and become an inventor. The workshops took off and that is why we are bringing them back.

The workshops consisted of three guest speakers each having twenty minutes to talk. The first speaker, an African-American inventor talked about his curiosity and how it grew to a new invention. The second speaker, a patent attorney, explained the procedure on how to file a patent. He had a great PowerPoint presentation and fielded questions from the audience. The third guest speaker was a patent examiner from Alexandria, VA whom I had met last year at a seminar. I saw her again at our annual training seminar and she informed me she was from St. Louis and was an engineer learning to be an examiner. What a small world!

I closed out the workshops with an offer to help anyone learn how to use the USPTO web site to discover if their idea had already been patented.

In addition, each attendee had an opportunity to speak with each guest speaker one-on-one so they could follow-up with their invention/patent questions.