This Black History Month, we are spotlighting the brilliant minds that are shaping the next generation of innovators at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In this series, get to know members of the HBCUs IP Futures Collaborative who are part of our new cohort of  Educators in Residence (EIR), a group of selected faculty who have worked tirelessly to support advancing IP literacy efforts at community colleges across the country. 

When we first engaged our HBCU educators through the HBCU IP Futures Collaborative, the program offered robust educational content focused on intellectual property (IP) rights and grew the adoption and integration of Michelson IP’s digital resources across curricula and programming at participating institutions. It also fostered a community of practice with participating faculty members, enabling them to share best practices and insights for IP subject matter instruction across disciplines. As a result of the Collaborative, we shared the importance of IP protection and awareness among the business, entrepreneurship, STEM, engineering, maker, and creative communities of participating HBCU institutions.

The impact our educators have had on their campuses and their communities is inspiring. Now, as Educators in Residence, we are calling on them to help us create tools and resources that other HBCU Educators might use to impart the value of IP education in their classrooms. We hope that partnering with these IP Education leaders will help us bring more HBCU educators into the fold, and revolutionize the way that innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity are taught to further empower the next generation of HBCU graduates. 

Join us as we delve into their unique experiences, groundbreaking work, and how they are imparting their knowledge of IP. 

Jerald Dumas

Associate Professor, Department of Nanoengineering, North Carolina A&T University

How did you start your journey teaching within the HBCU community?

I started my journey in teaching at an HBCU during my postdoctoral experience as a National Institutes of Health Institutional Research and Academic Career Development (NIH IRACDA) Fellowships in Research and Science Teaching (FIRST) fellow at Emory University. During this experience, I had the opportunity to teach Chemistry labs thanks to my teaching mentors in the Department of Chemistry at Morehouse College. That experience led me to  join the chemistry department for one year before I served 7.5 years as a chemical engineering professor at Hampton University. Now, my exciting HBCU journey has brought me to North Carolina A&T State University, where I am housed in the unique Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, a collaboration with the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. 

Please share one of your favorite teaching moments in your teaching career.

My favorite moments in my teaching career are the moments in which I witness student success! I have had the joy to see students join Fortune 500 companies and pursue Ph.D. and M.D. degrees. I recently had a “full circle” moment as a student with whom I had interactions at Morehouse became one of my healthcare providers. 

Why do you teach intellectual property to your students? Why is it important that IP is part of the curricula at HBCUs?

I am passionate about teaching entrepreneurship and intellectual property for several reasons. I feel that every student, regardless of their future aspirations, needs to have the entrepreneurship mindset. Within the entrepreneurship course, I have observed that the IP module catalyzes passionate dialogue as the students wish to protect their ideas and understand the process to do so. I have seen an increase of STEM undergraduates who start school with ideas, but many overlook the importance of protecting their IP.     

What do you hope will come out of your partnership with the Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property to bring IP to the HBCU ecosystem?

I hope to continue to raise awareness of IP with the Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property as a partner. I think that reviewing the different IP processes and case studies actually motivates students and faculty to produce innovation. The Michelson course material truly lowers the “activation energy” for learning IP. I hope to expand the discussion to local HBCUs throughout the state.  

Mark L. Quinn

Conrad N. Hilton Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship and Assistant Professor,  Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA)

How did you start your journey teaching within the HBCU community?

I decided that I wanted to teach at an HBCU after decades of managing economic development organizations, including founding a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). My focus was on entrepreneurship and creating wealth in Black and Brown communities. One memorable project that I managed was an entrepreneurial training program for underrepresented individuals aged 18-30, which led me to an adjunct teaching position at a prominent predominately white institution (PWI). After that, I took this opportunity at XULA when it presented itself.

Please share one of your favorite teaching moments in your teaching career.

It’s always gratifying when students respond and interact during discussions, and fortunately, these moments occur frequently. The effects of these interactions are seen over time when students keep in touch after graduation and talk about progress in their careers.

Why do you teach intellectual property to your students? Why is it important that IP is part of the curricula at HBCUs?

IP is the outcome of the creativity of our students. HBCU students primarily come from communities of color, communities that make major contributions to society in the form of music, art, literature, and culture. It’s important to teach IP to HBCU students because so many of the creations in their community were appropriated without fair compensation. Education about the value of their creations, how to protect their creations, and how to receive fair compensation will empower them to generate revenue and create wealth. IP is a valuable asset of which they should be knowledgeable.

What do you hope will come out of your partnership with the Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property to bring IP to the HBCU ecosystem?

I hope that a large number of BIPOCs will be informed about IP, its value, and how to learn more about realizing that value.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. 

Learn more about the HBCUs IP Futures Collaborative and Educators in Residence program.

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The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property, an initiative of the Michelson 20MM Foundation, provides access to empowering IP education for budding inventors and entrepreneurs. Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon Dr. Gary K. Michelson and Alya Michelson. To learn more, visit 20mm.org.