Finding innovative solutions to problems was always a passion for Sean Lawrence. Hailing from a long line of inventors, Sean has achieved the extraordinary feat of filing 60 patents. He was also selected as one of Intel's top inventors for 2020 and as a top Inventor at Intel India in 2021. And if there is anything he loves as much as inventing, it is collecting and restoring vintage clocks, furniture, and now, a 120-year old house!
Sean has been with Intel for 17 years. He started as an intern and has worked across multiple domains on wireless communications, next-gen WiFi, 3G, Digital TV, WiMax, and wireless display. Today, he works in the Vertical Solutions and Services Group (VSG) on cloud technologies and analytics. He is currently working on a visionary project of reducing accidents on Indian roads by 50%.
In case you're wondering how he finds the inspiration and drive to keep going, let's ask the man himself!
When did your passion for inventing start?
It runs in my family! If you look back, my great grandfather, grandfather, and father were inventors in their own way. They did not file patents or call out their inventions, but they had a vigor for finding innovative ways to do multiple things. My dad used to regularly fix machinery and electronics, despite being a sales manager with no engineering degree. He wound up repairing things that other mechanics and engineers had a hard time with! So, it comes as no surprise that I have a knack for working out creative solutions every chance I get.
When did you file your first patent?
My first patent was filed in 2005 during my internship. Based on a concept we called Simultaneous Coordinated Channel Access (SCCA), I filed the patent with a colleague from the same college as me and our mentors, and we were so thrilled! The concept is currently being incorporated in 4G and 5G and in wireless LAN where client systems with multiple antennas, using a technology called MIMO (multiple input, multiple output), upload simultaneously to a base station or access point. My mentors at Intel guided me and introduced me to the process of patent filing. Back home, my dad was especially proud of me, that being the first-ever patent in the family. He told me it was just the beginning, which turned out to be quite true.
When did you become a permanent employee at Intel, and how did you feel back then?
It was sixteen years ago, but I still remember everything clearly. I was finally joining my dream company on November 21, 2005, as a permanent employee, and something unexpected happened. My father passed away on that very same day. I missed my first week at work, and I did not experience the excitement people usually feel when joining an organization like Intel. But I can proudly say that Intel filled the void created in my life that day. It gave me stability at that point through my colleagues and mentors who would eventually become family, which has continued over the last 16 years. So, my gratitude to Intel is beyond words. For me, Intel was never just a job—but a part of my life.
Being selected as one of Intel's top inventors for 2020 is a huge feat! What is one thing that motivates you?
I'm always looking for ways to do things differently. Problems are opportunities, right? I like to go by that motto, and sometimes you find opportunities in places with no problems at all! This helps in patent filing, as you're constantly looking for scenarios where you can invent. In many cases, the product may reach the end of life, but the patent on the technology will live for 20 years from the date of filing, enabling the owner to use that technology for new generations of the product or completely new products. So, there are patents that outlive the very products that they were intended for! I am also on two of Intel's Patent Review Committees, where I help identify Intellectual Property submitted by employees for Intel to file. Understanding this responsibility helps me stay motivated!
Tell us about your current role in the Vertical Solutions and Services Group (VSG) and your responsibilities.
I have worked on multiple projects and domains in Intel's Client Computing Group (CCG) for 15 years and filed many patents there. I wanted to explore a different domain - cloud technologies and AI, and their associated use cases. In my current role, I work on security architecture, taking products through their SDL (Secure Development Lifecycle). In today's connected world, security within and between each component of a product is very important. It is necessary for product teams to build relevant expertise and skillsets to identify security concerns of the products being built. Be it client, edge, cloud, or IoT distributed systems, the security domain is an interesting space, with many opportunities to build associated technologies and use cases and more inventions and patents. Adding ML and AI to this mix improves this opportunity. I have also been working on analytics derived from the data acquired from our services.
What advice would you give young people looking to file patents and join Intel?
The most important advice is to find people who can mentor you, and at Intel, there is no shortage of mentors. There's always room for guidance, irrespective of your age or position. I always tell people around me that the moment you get your first patent, you go on the same list as people like Tesla and Edison. Now, if that isn't motivation enough, I don't know what is! In most cases, you will need to put in extra time and effort beyond your day job and make sure not to get demotivated if a few rejections come your way, for whatsoever reason, but this makes the successes even sweeter. The very fact that you could think of a unique idea should be a driving force in itself to help propel yourself and keep going. Filing Intellectual Property for your company is a win-win. It benefits you as well as your company.
Being at Intel has given me the opportunity to work in multiple technologies and across multiple job functions. I have done research, architecture, development, integration, and validation. This has helped me understand most aspects of product development and has given me holistic growth that I am really proud of!
With the goal of more than a hundred patents insight, Sean is all set to make a lasting impact at Intel.
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