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Experienced engineer foresees possible patent collaboration in Puerto Rico

Tara Astigarraga, who has more than 20 years of experience as an Engineer for International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), and who participated in the first National Diversity in STEM Conference in Puerto Rico, believes there could be an interest in collaborating in future projects on the island, so she may explore that possibility.

“I know there’s a lot going on in the ecology domains as well as the biomedical sciences and Puerto Rico is playing a big role in that and it’s very cool to see, as well as the biodiversity that the island has, it’s amazing. I think you guys can lead the way in a lot of that work,” said Astigarraga, during an interview with News is my Business.

The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science, in collaboration with Ciencia Puerto Rico, held the NDiSTEM conference in the Puerto Rico Convention Center Oct. 27-29.

Attendees of NDiSTEM were able to participate in professional development sessions, a Graduate School & Career Expo Hall, networking and more.

Astigarraga is a distinguished Master Inventor who has more than 75 patents issued, and in 2021 was featured in a Smithsonian exhibit highlighting Women Inventors.

In 2016 Astigarraga was the recipient of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society Technical Excellence Award and in 2019 was Distinguished Inventor of the Year.

“The first thing that you need to do is make sure that your idea is unique and noble and normally the way you do that is to start with a patent search on some of the key terms,” Astigarraga said.

“There’s the US patent office that has a database that you can use, as well as search engines that doesn’t track the search terms that you are using, and then show the implementability of your idea, not only proving that it’s unique, but prove that it is possible and how you would build it out,” said Astigarraga.

The US Patent and Trademark Office, in charge of the patents in the United States and Puerto Rico, states in their Patent Life cycle that people must: learn about patents, prepare their patent application, review their file application, and pay fees, go through the examination process and maintain their patent until the term expires; in the addition to the guided process with videos and additional links to resources they have on their website.

Payments may vary from type of project and additional fees like the filing fee, issue fee and maintenance fee, and all must be paid in US dollars for the full amount of the fee required.

There is an approximate $400 non-electronic filing fee that is to be paid in addition to the filing, search and examination fees in each original application filed with the USPTO.

The several fees for patent application filings may range from $320, up to $10,500 and more additional information on the other fees may be found on the USPTO website.

“Don’t be afraid to try. People always get intimidated by the process and the things they come up with, like, that it must be something ‘mind-blowing’ or ‘revolutionary technology,’ and that is not always the case,” said Astigarraga.

“You can make improvements or advancements to things that change a small portion of your life that can be very valuable patents,” said Astigarraga.

Astigarraga explained that her experience as a woman in her industry has been easier than she thought, but she recognizes the struggle other women in her industry might experience and she wants to explore more of the educational side of engineering by giving workshops in schools.

“I have gone through clients, gone places, and conferences and been extremely outnumbered, so I recognize it is a problem, and it is something that everyone sees,” said Astigarraga.

Author Details
Author Details
Yamilet Aponte-Claudio was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She graduated from Colegio Nuestra Señora de la Providencia and is currently a junior at Sacred Heart University. Majoring in Journalism and adding a minor in sustainable development and foreign languages, she aspires to study law after obtaining her bachelor’s degree.

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