HBCUs Meet the Finish Line of Michelson IP Program

In honor of Black History Month 2023, Michelson IP is giving readers a sneak peek at the work our HBCU IP Futures Collaborative institutions have been doing before the closing of the inaugural program this March. Here’s a few things we’ve gleaned from our participating institutions:


1) Activation Events & Workshops are still the best entry point for IP awareness

Most if not all of our participating institutions told us how speaker led workshops were the key to student engagement with intellectual property. At South Carolina State University, a IP for Social Change Series had participants engaged in discussions with presenters followed by a Q&A and “Think Tank” exercise including:

  • comparing and contrast concepts of innovation, invention, IP, and technology (I3T) and relate, strategically think, and organize it for social change; 
  • Articulate new knowledge of the USPTO and; 
  • Begin the steps for IP rights protection

Learn more about SC State student De’Marco Poole, who is now applying for a patent for his invention thanks to exposure via our HBCU program here.

2) Student ambassadors help put IP at the center of their peers experience and goals

Three out of the 6 institutions–including Xavier, Hampton and Norfolk State highlighted the use of student ambassadors to aid in IP education programming outreach and engagement. “There’s now been development and recognition of an IP club at Norfolk as an official student org. The student IP club will not only share IP information with the student body but be a central hub for all students who want to monetize their creative works via NFTs, trademarks, etc”, Dr. Kevin Santiago explained.

3) Graduate students at HBCUs actually have a need for introductory IP education as a stand-in for robust tech transfer offices

“The Michelson Initiative is needed among the HBCU [graduate school] community as [administration] grows its research infrastructure. Michelson could be a critical component in this growth”, Dr. Jerald Dumas of Hampton University remarked. Tapping into this demographic may uncover an underserved population of innovators who need guidance. Currently at Norfolk State, learning outcomes are being reviewed for several grad courses where IP curricula/educational resources may be incorporated.

4) Public Messaging and Communications highlighting the IP program generates interest from students and alumni alike

A unique program of this nature incentivized participating institutions to act as brand ambassadors for IP education. They sent out press releases and reached out to on campus communications personnel. SC State had their local newspaper discuss programmatic activities. At Norfolk State, an article on the program was placed in the school’s Behold Magazine publication and garnered many emails and inquiries from former students looking to get involved.

Important stats to keep in mind: 

  • 25% of African-American graduates with STEM degrees come from HBCUs. 
  • The American Sociological Association reported that 50% of all African-American engineers are graduates of HBCUs.

Be on the lookout for a shareable version of the program’s final report in the coming months.



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.