Jackson State University alum Glen Whittaker, a support equipment engineer for the Boeing Company in St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a patent for an invention he created that reduces the time airplane inspectors need to examine aircraft after they land.
The patent describes an automated system that uses various electronic sensors and computer programs to predict when critical parts will fail on commercial and military aircraft. This improves the safety of air travel by enabling aircraft mechanics to diagnose and correct faults before they become an issue.
Whittaker graduated from JSU in 1979 with a degree in electronic technology and was hired straight out of college for a company that later became Boeing. He currently works in Boeing’s Aircraft Support Equipment division.
A private pilot, Whittaker said the idea for his invention “pretty much came out of the blue” during an air show in Wisconsin. While there, he struck up a conversation with some people who made various aviation products.
“I didn’t start out trying to make an invention,” he said. “It evolved from my curiosity about the technology.”
Whittaker started work on his invention in 2005 and completed it a year later. He said Boeing management encouraged him to pursue the patent.
“I turned in my invention disclosure form to the intellectual property department and thought that will be the last I would hear of it,” Whittaker said. “Then my manager got a call about my invention, and they wanted to pursue it.”
It takes about seven years to obtain a patent.
The Terry, Miss., native said he transferred to Jackson State after attending Utica Junior College, which is now part of Hinds Community College. A nontraditional student, Whittaker worked days and attended JSU at night.
Whittaker contacted JSU’s University Communications department because he was curious about other JSU alumni who may have received a patent. If you are an alumnus who has received a patent, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.