Suresh Damodaran and Bryan Quinn

The People Behind the Patents

By Erica Kierstead

Meet some of the all-stars at MITRE who hold patents for their innovations.

Above, Suresh Damodaran and Bryan Quinn.

Since MITRE's very first patent in 1967 for the multiple-channel image dissector tube, we've been granted more than 270 patents issued through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

As a not-for-profit company working in the public interest, our patents help move ideas into real-world use. Our independent and government-funded research and development leads to breakthroughs with national and global significance.

“Patents are crucial for U.S. technological advancement, as they encourage both the creation and impact of innovations,” says Dr. Jay Schnitzer, MITRE senior vice president, chief technology and medical officer.

“We’re proud of our patent recipients. They represent our ability to invent new solutions to our government sponsors’ problems. They enable us to broadly share our intellectual property for the benefit of the nation, while protecting our sponsors’ rights to it.”

More than 250 employees were awarded over 100 patents in the past five years. These patent holders come from multiple disciplines and underrepresented populations, including 13.4% women.

“We believe innovation lies at the intersection of diversity and inclusion, and we’re proud to actively integrate our inclusion, diversity, and equity efforts into the very fabric of our work and organization,” says Kathleen Federico, senior vice president, chief people, brand and communications officer. 

At the heart of these innovations are many of MITRE’s greatest strengths—discovery, ingenuity, curiosity, scientific and technical expertise, and diversity of thought.

“It’s about the people behind the patents,” adds Federico. “Those who spend countless hours, late nights, untold amounts of caffeine, to do something incredible—to solve a problem for a safer world.” 

Here’s a look at a few recent patents in satellite communications and cyber and the innovative team members who brought the technology into existence.

It’s about the people behind the patents who spend countless hours, late nights, untold amounts of caffeine, to do something incredible.

Kathleen Federico, senior vice president, chief people, brand and communications officer

FUSE Antenna

Two MITRE employees using a 3D printer

Wajih Elsallal Ph.D. and Jamie Hill

The Frequency-scaled Ultra-wide Spectrum Element (FUSE) is a new class of wideband phased array antennas that increases performance and costs less than comparable technologies in the industry.

“The team and I had great passion for the FUSE concept and its potential applications for global communications, radar, and radiofrequency (RF) sensing,” says Wajih Elsallal Ph.D., one of FUSE’s developers. “Jamie [Hill] and I helped come up with that very first seedling of the FUSE and it did not just sit on the shelf—we kept advancing the design.”

FUSE’s development began as a government-sponsored project. After delivering an initial prototype, the team had a research idea that could decrease the manufacturing complexity by using additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, techniques.

“3D printing FUSE had great potential, but there was some risk involved since antenna designs need to be highly accurate in order to function properly,” says Jamie Hill, co-lead for FUSE’s development.  

“We took our idea and then pushed the boundaries of what could be achieved at the time through MITRE’s Independent R&D program. This is a great way to prove a new technology can work and bring down the risk before the sponsor signs on.”

During FUSE’s development, the team published widely and earned six patents for their designs, ultimately licensing the technology to five entities, split between commercial and government use, in an effort to make it more widely available for government sponsors’ critical operations. Several other inventors have joined Hill and Elsallal to further enhance the technology.

“Other project teams within MITRE began integrating FUSE to support communication, RF sensing, and signal processing projects, helping to create more of a portfolio of FUSE projects and prove utility for different end-use applications,” said Hill.

Elsallal credits many factors for FUSE’s success, including sponsors’ support, the product’s unique features, and encouragement from MITRE’s leadership team.

“We also have many talented colleagues here who are bringing innovative ideas to the FUSE program. It’s truly been a team effort.”

Cyber Streaming Effects and Analytics Languages (SEAL)

Another MITRE IR&D project has led to seven patent applications so far, three of which have been granted recently.

“In working with sponsors, we realized there was a universal need for tools that anyone could use to help detect, respond, and recover from attacks on cyber physical systems,” says Suresh Damodaran Ph.D., principal investigator on the Cyber SEAL research project.

The team developed the Cyber SEAL suite of tools to help non-cyber experts defend against attacks on platforms that integrate both hardware and software.

“Our Cyber SEAL prototype can detect both physical and cyber attacks and provides intuitive visual indicators and automatic or human-in-the-loop defenses,” says Damodaran.

The tools are flexible enough to be integrated into a variety of platforms—everything from a naval vessel to a power plant or a gas pump.

Damodaran says it takes a village to develop technologies like this. “I work with a great team of people. It’s not just one single person doing the work alone—there’s a big ecosystem of our team and sponsors. We’ve all contributed to the success of this technology.”

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