Lisa Seacat DeLuca (CS'05) is an inventor on fire.
The IBM mobile software engineer and graduate of Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science has filed 350 patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office; so far, 115 have been issued.
DeLuca is the youngest IBM employee and the first woman to obtain the 100th Invention Plateau Achievement Award, an IBM award given for patent filings.
Network World calls her one of the 50 most fascinating people in the world of technology.
"I am super proud to have attended Carnegie Mellon University, and I am quick to tell anyone who'll listen about my experience there," DeLuca said.
The CMU name recognition helped her obtain an internship between her sophomore and junior years, which led to a handful of job offers.
"It sure took the pressure off, knowing I already had a full-time job lined up before I graduated," DeLuca said.
DeLuca also took advantage of the ease with which students can cross disciplinary boundaries at the university, minoring in business administration and multimedia production.
"My favorite class was Technology Consulting in the Community with Joe Mertz, through which I helped a local Jewish synagogue with its website," DeLuca said. "It was such a great experience to go into the real world as an undergrad and use the skills we were learning to meet a need in the community."
DeLuca's passion for patenting is something she does for fun, she said.
"I learn best by doing," DeLuca said. "As a mobile software engineer, I get all kinds of ideas while I'm working with new technologies, ideas on how I think the technology could be better."
She admits to initially thinking patenting was something out of her reach, but now she guides others through the process.
"Working at IBM made it less intimidating, and I learned that I don't have to write all the legalese that goes with it; I just have to explain my good idea to someone else," she said. "It's really about just having an idea that no one else has thought of before."
DeLuca tells students to network with their classmates, get to know them and work with them whenever they can.
"You will find yourself working with your classmates in the future," DeLuca said. "I run into people I went to school with all the time in the real world."
DeLuca is one of nearly 600 alumni working for IBM and its affiliates.
CMU and IBM have a long history of collaboration. In 1982, they created the world's first wired campus with The Andrew System. CMU also has worked closely with IBM on architectures for question-answering systems, such as Watson and is part of a research initiative for advancing computing systems.
Next on DeLuca's radar is to one day become an IBM fellow and possibly to start her own business.
"I would hire someone who went to CMU over another school because I know the caliber of people Carnegie Mellon attracts and produces," she said.
DeLuca is the mother of twin boys and just finished writing an animated ebook called "A Robot Story" that teaches children to count to 10 in binary.
"Why not get them started early?" she said.