Guest blog post by Davetta Goins, Supervisory Patent Examiner, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Growing up in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, where my family, neighbors, and close friends were scientists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, and teachers, I was surrounded by professionals. My parents were very active in community organizations that helped encourage teens in local high schools to enter the fields of science, math, and technology. These programs introduced me to a vast array of career paths, and paved the way for my decision to pursue a degree in electrical engineering.
After graduating from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, a Historically Black College or University, I became a patent examiner at the Department of Commerce's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). When I started working for the agency, I was one of only a few black women working in a Technology Center (TC) of around 200 examiners. This was disconcerting, especially because the first black patent clerk, Anthony Bowen, had been an employee in the 1830's. That was well over 160 years prior to me joining the USPTO. However, I have seen the agency become extremely diverse over the past 20 years. Today, nearly one-fifth of the USPTO’s employees are African American. I attribute this increase in number to various recruiting programs and affinity groups that promote science and engineering to local communities and historically black universities--like the one I attended.
After examining patents in the field of electrical communications for 15 years, I became a Supervisory Patent Examiner. I now oversee a group of employees who review applications related to electrical audio signal processing systems and devices. Aside from assisting examiners with their work product, I also support various projects in the agency. I mentor as well as provide mock interviews to employees who aspire to become managers, travel to various universities to inform students of job opportunities the USPTO has to offer, and co-lead an engagement team that helps foster initiatives centered around the agency’s mission and strategic plan. I also lead a work-life team, which organizes activities for TC employees in hopes of creating a balance of work and life.
I’m proud to work for an agency that strives for the inclusion of all backgrounds while providing ample opportunities to employees as they further their careers.
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce African Americans during Black History Month.