Marlin Mickle arguably could be called the most active Pitt Innovator at the University of Pittsburgh. He has built up a large portfolio of patents, licenses, and options around his innovations mainly by finding new ways to leverage ambient, or radio-frequency (RF), energy in the air.
Mickle, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and an engineering faculty member since 1962, has submitted more than 124 invention disclosures since 1996 to the Office of Technology Management (OTM) for commercial consideration—more than half of them since 2006 and more than double the next-highest number of submissions by a single innovator. So far, Mickle has received U.S. patents on 24 of his innovations, and at least seven start-up companies have been launched around his technologies.
Mickle, while in a class of his own when it comes to innovating, is one of a growing number of Pitt Innovators making technology commercialization on par with other academic priorities. He and his most innovative peers are transforming more and more of their research into innovations with commercial potential even as they continue to make new inroads in their research fields, publish their findings, and provide hands-on education to their students.
“I like to make new things—things that nobody else has done,” says Mickle of his RF research. “But I try not to get caught up in the technology itself. I just want to keep it simple—and useful.”