Guest blog post by Allison Bourke, Supervisory Patent Examiner, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
I am a supervisory patent examiner at the Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in electrochemistry technology, specifically solar cells, thermoelectrics, fuel cells, and batteries. I support 15 patent examiners and provide assistance so they can get their patent applications reviewed in a timely manner.
I started at the USPTO as a patent examiner in Alexandria, Virginia, in 2009, after attending the University of Arizona and University of Michigan for degrees in chemical engineering. I absolutely loved my experience in the D.C. metro area. I grew up in the mountains of northern Arizona, so when the opportunity to work at the USPTO office in Denver arose (the Rocky Mountain Regional Office opened in 2014), I packed up my stuff and cats and headed west! I have really enjoyed the small office experience in Denver (100 employees vs. thousands of employees in Alexandria), and the outdoor opportunities in the area are endless. In Denver, I have become a mentor to a young elementary school girl who is attempting to conquer her multiplication tables.
One of my proudest accomplishments at the USPTO has been helping found, with other like-minded colleagues, two women’s organizations: Women in Science and Engineering at the Alexandria campus and Women in Technology and Science at the Rocky Mountain Regional Office. Both organizations have a mission to promote STEM/intellectual property (IP) for K-12 and college students and support members through social and enrichment activities. We have organized, given talks to local college Society of Women Engineers sections about careers in IP, and, with the Rocky Mountain Office’s Outreach team, assisted with Girl Scout IP Patch days and women’s IP networking events with outside organizations. Both organizations celebrate women all year long but focus on Women’s History Month with numerous activities, such as hosting inspirational talks, tea parties, and strong women movie-viewing parties.
I look forward to March each year so we can remind everyone of all the awesome accomplishments of women throughout history and inspire those for the future!
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce women during Women’s History Month.