R2i2 gets first patent

Nithin Saravanapandian (Spring Valley High School), Murray McDaniel (Spring Valley High School), Omar Herrera (Richland Northeast High School), Andrea Cerda (in center-Blythewood High School), Ronnie Fowler (Blythewood High School), Kay Brown (Ridge View High School), and Anaiah Thompson (Blythewood High School). Not pictured are Jeremiah Lynch (Ridge View High School) and Laila Thompson (Westwood High School) and instructors Kirstin Bullington and Robin Jones.

COLUMBIA – The Richland School District Two Institute of Innovation (R2i2) Student Innovation Center was created to give students a place to explore and enhance their critical thinking, problem solving and innovation skills. A product of their creativity and collaboration is not only having a global impact, but it is worthy of a patent. This week the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued patent 11,695,368 for their “Modular Power Supply Apparatuses and Methods for Using Same.”  It is the first patent for the R2i2 Student Innovation Center.

R2i2 students

In 2018-2019, R2i2 students were named an InvenTeam by the Lemelson-MIT Program for inventing a system of interlocking solar modules to power a photocopier for a secondary school in Sare Bilaly, Senegal. This invention was needed because the school, which had limited educational resources beyond notebooks and blackboards, was gifted a photocopier but had no electricity to use it. The school’s principal, who had worked with R2i2 previously on a solar study light project, reached out for another innovative solution. 

Nine students on the R2i2 InvenTeam represented all five high schools in Richland Two. They spent an entire school year developing their modular power system. The inventors are R2i2 students M’Chaelah “Kay” Brown, Andrea Cerda, Anaiah Thompson, Laila Thompson, Ronnie Fowler, Omar Herrera, Jeremiah Lynch, Murray McDaniel, and Nithin Saravanapandian, and R2i2 instructors Kirstin Bullington and Robin Jones. Because six of the inventors are women, they now make up more than 50 percent of R2i2 patent holders. USPTO data indicates less than 13 percent of inventors listed on patents granted in a single year are women and there is little to no data on the participation of other underrepresented groups.

Doug Lineberry, who has served on R2i2’s career advisory board since it opened in 2016, was the patent attorney who facilitated this process. In preparation for approval of the patent, last school year, the Richland Two Board of Trustees unanimously approved Policy JICED Intellectual Property. The intent is to protect students’ original creations and specify the district’s fiscal and legal responsibility for students’ creations until ownership of such creations are transferred to the student.

The R2i2 Student Innovation Center focuses on teaching students to employ their own ingenuity to make the world a better place and to prepare them for the workplace, certification programs and/or higher education. Students in grades 10-12, from all five of the district’s high schools, take courses at R2i2 including App Development and Coding; Next Energy Engineering; Marketing and Social Media; Pastry and Baking; 3D Printing and Design; and Animation and B.E.A.T.S. (Beginning Engineering of Audio, Technology, and Sound).

The R2i2 Student Innovation Center is located at 763 Fashion Drive, Columbia, SC.

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]