Your Work Whilst Studying Has A Value. Ensure You Guard Against Loosing It
This article will help you to protect your intellectual property from predators in the lecture room
Be warned, many students loose control of their intellectual property to unscrupulous lecturers at universities and technical colleges. There are millions of students attending colleges and universities as their first step into a working life. They are young, smart, intelligent, innovative, full of new ideas and very vulnerable.
Who would take advantage of them ? Who would steal their ideas ?.
A True Case.
Many years ago in the 1960’s I was attending a college in the UK. The course I was attending was “Engineering Design”.
As the start of the course year the “Engineering Design” lecturer advised that each student on the course would be required to register, with him, what subject we would each develop, as our individual project, for the course year.
I had no idea what subject I could register. My mind was a blank. However, an incident happened in the window of time between the lecturer advising the requirement and the date at which the registration should take place. This incident was to prove very significant for many people.
I was living just outside, Chester England at the time of the course. However, I had spent my first ten years of my life in the area of Kirkdale, a suburb of Liverpool. Accordingly, having cycled around Kirkdale on a bike, having no brakes and no tyres, I knew Kirkdale very well. I was well acquainted with a road named Bank Hall which connected the dock road to the upper road through the area known as Bootle. Bank Hall as it name implied was built on a bank. The road run steeply from the top to the bottom were it intersected with the dock road which was probably the busiest road in Liverpool. At the top of Bank Hall there was a small kiosk which sold newspapers and cigarettes to passing people. One day, a driver of a heavy truck stopped his truck at the kiosk to buy his morning requirements. The truck was parked in an orientation that it faced down the hill. Significantly, the driver had his very young son with him and he had been left in the cab of the truck. Whilst the truck driver was at the kiosk the truck started to roll down the hill gathering speed as it went. It was assumed tha the young boy had accidentally released the hand brake and that the truck had been left in neutral gear. The truck arrived at the intersection of Bank Hall and the dock road at high speed and ploughed into a number of vehicles including a bus. Many people were killed.
When I read of this, as a person who had maintained my own car and as a young engineer, I decided to investigate what braking systems were on the market. I also registered my project with my lecturer. It was registered as an automatic hand brake system for heavy vehicles.
By the end of my course year I had investigated all types of braking systems on the market and concluded that there were not a “fail safe” system available on the market. I belief that the term “fail safe” had not, at that time, been coined. My design was for a “fail safe” system in which the design incorporated a system that had the brakes applied by heavy duty springs. To overcome the spring pressure and take the brakes off, pistons, operated by vacuum, operated on the springs. My design package had fully detailed design drawings and calculations. The package was delivered to my lecturer on time and at that time the lecturer advised all the students that the project design packages would not be returned to the students. I was informed, later, that I had gained my Engineering Design Certificate.
It was a year or so later that I was attending and economics lecture. My lecturer was an ex Liverpool Echo newspaper man. In conversation, the subject of lecturers using the products of their students to gain money was brought up. The central subject was the production of a Jigsaw which depicted a nude Marilyn Monroe. My lecturer told us that a lecturer had taken the idea from a student and produced the jigsaw and made a lot of money.
Much later, when driving in traffic I heard a noise that I had never heard associated with heavy trucks. It was the sound of air passing through an orifice. Later, I tracked down the noise to the vent system of the braking system under the rear axle of the truck. The noise was because the vent filter had been removed, a common practice, as the vent filter required maintenance which did not happen and the filter was discarded. I firmly believed that the design was based on my original work during my time a college when I was studying for an HNC endorsement
Accordingly, when producing anything that includes your intellectual property you must take precautions in not allowing it to be, by stealth, removed from your ownership. In the case of the fail safe brakes, the patent was taken out in the same year that I handed over my work to the lecturer but I had not applied for a patent.!!
What Has Been Done To Protect You
Since the 1960’s this situation has been understood by educational organisations and rules have been introduced to avoid lecturers ( or the organisations) taking an unfair advantage of students.
You can review some of the safeguards in place at:-