May 15, 2020
Patterson High School Students Awarded Patent for De-soldering Tool
PLTW EDD Seniors: School Year 2015 - former students of ITEEA member Sharon Ball.
Javon Gholston, Age – 17
Goal: To become a member of the U.S. Coast Guard
2020 – Fire Inspector (Private Company)
Michael Heier, Age – 17
Goal: To attend Morgan State University, study and become an engineer
2020 – Junior at MSU – Transportation Engineering
As seniors at Patterson High School, Javon and Michael were enrolled in the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Engineering Pathway. It is a challenging and rigorous program focused on preparing students for high-tech STEM careers. Mike and Javon both loved working with electronics.
The Engineering Problem
When it came to soldering the electronic components on the PCBs, Javon and Mike noticed the holes quickly clogged with solder and it was hard to get the solder out of the holes. Existing de-soldering tools like the de-solder pump or solder sucker, did not always work well. After experimenting with other tools, Javon and Mike developed the de-soldering pen that seemed to get the job done easily and quickly.
For their senior Capstone Project in the PLTW Engineering Design & Development (EDD) course, Javon and Mike applied the engineering design process to build and test their idea.
The Business Idea
As their project started to take shape, they wrote a business plan for the de-soldering tool and entered their project in the NFTE Competition. NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) equips young people who have an innovator’s eye with the skills to excel in business. The student team juggled hard work, electronics, and printed circuit boards (PCBs) with business plans, marketing, and economics, which proved successful. After winning 1st place at the Baltimore City Regionals in 2015, they made their way to New York for the NFTE Finals.
At the NFTE Finals, the team’s de-soldering tool captured the attention of patent attorney, David L. Cahn of Whiteford Taylor & Preston L.L.P., who often worked with the Baltimore NFTE Director, Darlene Ajayi to support student start-up businesses. Though they did not place first in the NFTE Finals, they won big in the business arena.
The Patent Process
Javon and Mike’s journey started after they garnered a patent application for their design in 2016. The patent process can be a lengthy one. During that time, Mike and Javon formed a company “Power To The PCB” and won Baltimore City’s Youth Entrepreneurs of the Year, 2016. It took three years, but in July 2019, they were awarded a full patent for their de-soldering tool.
Project Business Title: The De-Soldering Pen
What it does: Shaped like a regular pen, the De-Soldering Pen uses lead to clear the clogged holes on the PCB. PCBs are used in all electronics devices; e.g., cell phones, computers, etc.
Patent Awarded US 10,363,623 B2 July 30, 2019
This patent is for a solder punch tool and method of using the same. The solder punch tool includes an extensible rod, such as a graphite rod, extensible from a first end of the solder punch tool, and a metal punch on an opposite end of the solder punch tool. Optionally, an A/C power cord and a light may each be removably attachable to the solder punch tool. In use, a user may melt solder clogging a hole in a printed circuit board, push a portion of the extensible rod through the hole and the molten solder, break off a portion of the extensible rod extending through the hole in the printed circuit board, and push such broken portion of the extensible rod through the hole using the metal punch so as to clear the hole to receive a replacement component.
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