Think of some famous inventor’s from history - whose names pop into your mind first? Some heavy-weights probably, like Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, Nikola Tesla. And the list goes on. It’s likely that not one woman’s name came to mind, since the number of notable women inventors from the pages of our history books is few and far between. Luckily for all the innovative gals out there, this disheartening statistic is quickly becoming a thing of the past in today’s modern world.
As proof of the changing tides for female inventors, take the story of Lisa Seacat DeLuca, a technology strategist, engineer and sophomore inventor at IBM, mother of four, and pretty close to Super Woman in our book.
As of March 2016, Seacat DeLuca was named IBM’s most prolific inventor in the business’s history, with 420 patents filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and 255 applications issued. Prior to that title in 2014, she was named one of Network World’s 50 Most Fascinating People in the World of Technology.
As if those accomplishments weren’t quite up to par for you, DeLuca is also the first woman in IBM history to reach the 100th plateau achievement level, having filed more than 370 patent applications. Still under the age of 35, it’s clear that this innovative powerhouse of a woman has many years of creative thinking ahead of her.
As impressive as DeLuca’s track record is, she had to start somewhere, right? As the inventor describes comically in her TED Talk about the future of technology, her first idea came to her in second grade when her teacher asked the class to come up with an idea and invent a prototype. As a 7-year-old, DeLuca hated walking in the cold, fast and hard Montana rain and getting her pants wet. So, she came up with an answer to this problem - a full-body umbrella. Her prototype? A shower curtain taped to a plate! Maybe not the most glamorous invention the world has seen, but it was certainly the start of Deluca’s lifelong journey of inventing solutions to everyday problems.
DeLuca developed a love of technology and programming from a young age which began by discovering coding patterns while playing the classic video game “Pac Man” unforeseen by other kids, and was able to anticipate coming configurations in the game – the sign of a bright mind early on.
She earned a Bachelor’s of Science Degree with a focus on Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon in 2005 and then a Masters of Science with a focus on Technology Commercialization from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.
At age 22, DeLuca was hired at IBM after two internships with the company. Though intimidated by the multinational scope of the company, she caught the innovation bug immediately and hasn’t looked back since. In an article she wrote for Forbes, the inventor says, “There’s not a better feeling than coming up with creative solutions to real problems that other people find valuable.”
She’s a problem solver, so DeLuca’s inventions, ideas and patents are all geared towards improving day-to-day issues and annoyances by applying and manipulating existing technology to enhance our daily grinds.
She specializes in software and mobile app programming and she’s used these skills to dream up products and programs that utilize Smart Phones, wifi, social media, instant messaging and many other forms of communication technology. Here are just a few of DeLuca’s many creations:
DeLuca prophesizes about the future of mankind in her TED Talk saying, “our lives in the next 20-50 years will pretty much be the exact same as they are today – only with some really cool toys.”
Some of these “toys” that DeLuca imagines include (all mentioned in the Ted Talk linked above):
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