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Happy Campers: National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees Visit Camp Invention

The memories of summer camp last a lifetime, especially for the Camp Invention® participants who had the opportunity to meet real-life inventor superheroes.

Among the more than 1,600 Camp Invention programs that took place across the country this season, a handful of them were treated to visits by National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductees. This past July, seven Inductees attended NIHF’s Supercharged™ Camp Invention program to engage with our innovative campers across the country. Their visits spanned four different states and even included one site in Canada.

While at camp, Inductees met with students to share their unique paths to success. The importance of dedication and learning to overcome obstacles were common themes in many of the Inductees’ stories. Students also received constructive feedback on the projects they completed throughout the week.

To learn more about the personal stories these Inductees shared with students at camp, continue reading below!

Jacqueline Quinn – Baldwin Park Elementary, Florida

In the late 1990s, NIHF Inductee Jackie Quinn worked with a team of NASA environmental engineers and researchers to develop a clean-up technology called emulsified zero-valent iron, or EZVI. Quinn and her team were challenged to develop a product that would combat chlorinated solvent contaminants left over from the early years of space exploration. She was able to find a solution to removing contaminants by devising EZVI. The EZVI system eliminates the need to dig up contaminated water and soil, requires less treatment time, produces less toxic and more biodegradable byproducts and is cost-competitive.

Jim West – Aberdeen High School, Maryland

NIHF Inductee Jim West was fascinated by sound when he began working at Bell Laboratories in 1957. His research inspired him to improve the accuracy and reliability of the microphone, and along with Gerhard Sessler, he went on to patent the first-of-its-kind electret microphone in 1962. Within the electret microphone circuit, thin sheets of polymer electret film are metal coated on one side to form the membrane of the movable plate capacitor that converts sound to electrical signals. West and Sessler developed a new industry standard in microphone technology by introducing a product that was highly efficient, inexpensive and light weight.

Marshall Jones – IBM Canada Offices, Ottawa, Canada

NIHF Inductee Marshall Jones was a mechanical engineer at General Electric (GE) when he pioneered the use of lasers for industrial materials processing. Despite his incredible achievements, Jones’ path to becoming a successful engineer was not an easy one. As a young man, he developed a speech impediment and had to repeat the fourth grade to improve his reading and spelling skills. He also attended community college before enrolling at the University of Michigan, where he was the only African American student in the engineering school. At GE, he invented new ways to weld dissimilar metals and developed fiber optic lasers that were more convenient for industrial systems and applications. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Jones now holds more than 50 U.S. patents and 57 foreign patents and is recognized as one of the foremost authorities in the field of laser material processing.

Spencer Silver and Art Fry – Minnetonka Middle School West, Minnesota

In 1968, NIHF Inductee Spencer Silver worked at 3M as a senior scientist developing a new class of adhesives when he discovered an acrylic adhesive with unique properties. This pressure-sensitive substance was formed of small spheres that were strong enough to stick to surfaces without leaving residue and could be used repeatedly.

A few years later, fellow 3M researcher and NIHF Inductee Arthur Fry learned of Silver’s adhesive microsphere discovery and made an immediate connection to how this scientific development might be used further. As a member of his church choir, Fry had grown increasingly bothered by the paper bookmarks used in his hymnal that would often slip out of place. Fry realized that Silver’s adhesive could provide a solution by temporarily anchoring his bookmarks in place. At 3M, Fry decided to coat paper with the new adhesive to make repositionable notes, and thus Post-it® Notes were created.

Steve Sasson – New York City Public Schools, New York

NIHF Inductee Steve Sasson forever changed the technology industry when he invented the first digital camera. As a child growing up in Brooklyn, New York, he loved to tinker with electronics and explore new technologies. When he began working at Kodak after graduate school, he wondered if the same concept of electrical pulses used for television could be applied to an all-electric camera. While at Kodak, Sasson was tasked with investigating whether charge-coupled devices (CCDs) could be used to create an image sensor for a camera. After spending one year in the lab, he created a device that captured an image, converted it to an electronic signal, digitized the signal and stored the image. Essentially all of today’s digital cameras rely on the same structure Sasson developed in 1975.

Sumita Mitra – Parkview Center School, Minnesota

NIHF Inductee Sumita Mitra was working as a chemist at 3M Oral Care when she led the team that invented the first dental filling material to include nanoparticles. The new composite filling material, called Filtek™ Supreme Universal Restorative, is a versatile material that accomplishes tasks like restoring teeth in any area of the mouth, mimicking the beauty of natural teeth and improving polish retention. One of Mitra’s major breakthrough moments came when she realized that nanoparticles could be clustered and combined, further allowing her to create durable composite filling materials. Today, Filtek Supreme products have been used in over 600 million restorations worldwide since being launched in 2002.

Learn More About Our Inductees

More information about the fascinating lives of NIHF Inductees and their groundbreaking inventions can be found on our website. For news on Inductee camp visits and much more, check out our blog and Facebook page.

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