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USC Professor Simon Ramo Becomes Oldest Person To Receive Patent

Ramo received the patent at the age of 100.
Arash Zandi
May 29, 2014 —

USC Professor Simon Ramo with USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos

Longtime friend of USC and former USC Viterbi Professor, Simon “Si” Ramo, received his most recent patent at the age of 100 and is the oldest person ever to receive a patent.

The patent was created for any person, business, or entity seeking information to ensure that information being presented is useful by being understood.

Said Ramo: “Lots of people are learning new information via computer screens. When you receive information these days by way of a screen, nothing is being done to find out if you understand the information. When you look at a screen and you get information from the screen, you’re looking at a visual picture and getting something from the presentation. While learning information from the presentation, why not ask a simple yes-no or true-false question every 10 minutes? You can learn whether the students understood the information or not. If they understand it, skip the information and if they don’t understand it, then repeat it, or go slower.”

Born in Salt Lake City, Ramo received dual Ph.D. degrees in physics and electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology at the age of 23. While working for General Electric as a scientist, he pioneered the use of microwave electronics and was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Jimmy Carter.

Ramo has been at the forefront of national defense technology as the chief scientist and technical director of the U.S.’s largest defense program, the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan.

As a successful high-tech entrepreneur, Ramo founded several successful high-tech companies, including TRW Inc. (Thompson Ramo Wooldridge). These companies were later acquired by General Electric, General Motors, Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing and Honeywell.

Ramo joined USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering in 2008 as a Presidential Chair and Professor of Electrical Engineering. USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos called Ramo the “ideal model for the much-talked-about engineer of the 21st century.”

Despite being the recipient of over 40 patents, Ramo does not expect to receive any more in the future: “Most patents do not bring in money to the patentee, and so there’s no particular reason for doing it. I did some of those [patents] because I wanted to bring other, younger people along as co-patentees and teach them how to choose the right time to do a patent, when it really pays off.”