This summer at the 2022 Virtual National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp), Dr. David Hackleman, co-inventor of inkjet printer ink, brought delegates from across the globe behind the scenes on the process of invention. 

During the open discussion, one of the delegates asked: Who in R&D determines what is prioritized to be researched? 

Dr. Hackleman responded, “In other words:  Who tells you what to do, right?” 

He continued, “The people who decide where the money goes are usually managers and finance people… these individuals typically don’t have a very technical background, but they often know what they would like to see as an end product.”

He explained that Thermal Ink-Jet technology needed a plain paper ink to be successful, first and foremost. The process of invention, beyond the motivating need, is the main initiative. However, throughout the process other minor inventions often occur before and after the instigating objective, and they don’t all see the light of day. Dr. Hackleman’s point was to reveal that inventions are commonplace in many ways, and an inventor can create just for the sake of creativity, but it’s rare for an invention to lead to a beneficial and well adopted standard if one isn’t considering the big picture of fulfilling a need. 

“Engineers and scientists are far more creative than your average person; they have very interesting, neat ideas to come up with better ways to do things, which may lead to impactful innovations or revelations,” Dr. Hackleman concluded.

Prior to retirement, Dr. Hackleman served as the Linus Pauling Chair of Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University.
About the National Youth Science Camp:  Hosted in Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia since 1963, the National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) is a residential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program designed to honor and challenge some of the nation’s rising leaders and provide them with opportunities to engage with STEM professionals and participate in exciting outdoor activities. Typically, two delegates are selected to attend camp from each state and the District of Columbia. In partnership with the U.S. State Department, we also host international delegates. Past countries represented include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago. Housing, meals, transportation, and supplies are provided to participants at no cost. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, now for the 3rd consecutive year, the 2022 National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) is an entirely virtual experience.