IEEE-USA Webinars Leads the Way in Providing Free Advice to Entrepreneurial Engineers

By Daryll Griffin

Led by IEEE-USA’s Entrepreneurial Activities Committee (EAC), IEEE-USA is providing numerous webinars to help entrepreneurs. IEEE-USA’s Board of Directors chartered the Entrepreneurial Activities Committee in June 2005.  The Committee is currently organized to deliver knowledge, experience and support to U.S. IEEE members who start and grow entrepreneurial businesses. EAC is providing part of their outreach through webinars.

Understanding the Law

EAC asked IEEE-USA’s webinar team to provide information to educate engineering entrepreneurs on the legal aspects of starting their own business. David M. Ostfeld, EAC member, and an attorney with Strasburger & Price, LLP in Houston stepped forward to provide a series of webinars on different legalese entrepreneurs should be aware of. Antitrust Basics focused on providing a review of the Sherman Act, the Clayton Act and the Robinson-Patman Act, so entrepreneurs can build a basic knowledge of antitrust law. Everything You Want to Know about Product Trademarks covers the types of trademarks, levels of trademark protection, how to effectively use trademarks in marketing, and how to obtain trademark rights. Copyright Basics explored the many aspects of copyrighting, including: copyright definition, what you can copyright, and who owns a copyright.

In addition, Karen Dana Oster, a patents attorney for 20 years, presented the webinar:  Patentability and Infringement: A Practical Guide for Understanding the Basics.   Ms. Oster explains that despite their similarities, patentability (Can you get a patent for your invention?) and infringement (Will there be a liability, if you practice your invention?) are very different issues. Each issue must be considered separately, when an entrepreneur has an idea for a product or service.

Testimonies from Successful Entrepreneurs

IEEE-USA also strives to make personal access available to successful entrepreneurs, so they can provide practical advice to those in need. In the Success for Start-ups webinar, Milton Chang shares his personal experience as an entrepreneur and an investor, to show how to develop an approach that is appropriate for your particular business idea. With input from Nicholas Colella, Milton reveals common tech start-up pitfalls, and tells you how to increase your likelihood of success.

And as previously highlighted in IEEE-USA in Action, EAC recruited Greg Olsen, an American entrepreneur and scientist, to present A Voyage into Entrepreneurship and to the International Space Station.  In this webinar, Olsen shares his thoughts about being an entrepreneur, and co-founding Sensors Unlimited Inc., a company developing optoelectronic devices.  (It should be noted that Olsen is also the third private citizen to make a self-funded trip into space.) This webinar is worth watching–especially to see the video Olsen provides of his time in space.

Small Business Administration’s Webinar Series

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a U.S. government agency that provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses. In June 2009, IEEE-USA and the U.S. Small Business Administration signed an agreement pledging mutual cooperation in promoting, strengthening and expanding small business development throughout the United States. On SBA’s part, they have provided a series of webinars highlighting how they can help engineering entrepreneurs, outlining different funding programs.  These webinars also educate engineers on how they can better market their tech business.


How the SBA/IEEE-USA Partnership Can Help Engineering Entrepreneurs gives a general overview of the SBA, highlighting a range of services and products that will benefit U.S. IEEE members. SBIC & SBIR: What would you like to Know? Come ask the SBA presents a general overview of two SBA funding programs. And in Marketing Your Technical Skills, the SBA speaker shares his vast experience working with technology companies.  He also provides insights on how technology company owners can market their business products.

Since 2005 and the creation of the EAC, IEEE-USA has taken an expanded role in helping engineers become entrepreneurs. With the numerous webinars available, IEEE-USA entrepreneurs have a virtual library at their fingertips, to prepare themselves to become business owners.

Check out all of IEEE-USA webinars; they address many different topics that will surely interest you!

Daryll Griffin is program manager for IEEE-USA’s careers & innovation programs.

Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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