Conceptual Design Fellow Gabe Suciu is one of Pratt & Whitney's most prolific inventors. His name is on approximately 150 granted patents and over 475 pending patent applications worldwide. The 37-year Engineering veteran is one of the major contributors to PurePower® Geared Turbofan™ engine intellectual property ("IP").
"Gabe is well known across the organization for being a great innovator," IP Strategies Fellow Fred Schwarz said. "He has phenomenal vision for things that can be changed to provide customers with something uniquely better."
For his part, Suciu is quick to share the credit. He notes that the patent process is a collaborative effort among Engineering, Legal and other stakeholders to protect the company's competitiveness. "On many patents my name is not the only name, and even on the ones where I am the only patent holder, many people were involved," he said.
The Geared Turbofan engine technology now entering the market is a good example. It is the game changer in the next generation of products. The requirements for these engines were established 20 years ago, long in advance of the actual solution, according to Suciu.
"We knew we needed to design an engine that would give us a 15% performance improvement," he said. "We had the target and the levels of performance of existing engines. It is only through collaboration that engineers can do all the analysis needed to come up with the technical solutions."
He said that it is those technical solutions explored along the way that represent the patent opportunities. "Your competition strives to achieve the same goals, and it is through the patent process that we ensure Pratt & Whitney protects its right to achieve those requirements in a way that differentiates us from the competition," he said.
The company's innovative spirit is so valuable to the IP process that there has often been a desire to "bottle" it. "Years ago when we were first documenting Engineering Standard Work, I had a boss who called me and said, 'Gabe, I like the way you are coming up with new ideas, and I'd like to put that into our Standard Work.'"
That thinking has its heart in the right place, but the way to ensure a successful IP process is not by mandating it, but through collaboration. "The majority of my IP isn't just my effort," Suciu said. "You have to find the engineers who really possess knowledge and have confidence to share, and collaborate with them."
"Gabe is representative of the thinking that makes our organization the leader in the industry," added Tom Prete, vice president, Engineering. "By looking for opportunities to protect our IP, we set up Pratt & Whitney to win in the market. All of our inventors should be commended on their fine work."