Dr. John Obielodan’s work as a researcher, educator and inventor, as well as helping other inventors develop prototypes, make him a 2021 WiSys Innovation Champion.
The WiSys award recognizes UW System leaders, faculty, staff, students or community partners who have played an integral role in building a culture of innovation at a UW System regional institution.
A Resource for Inventors
In addition to his primary work at UW-Platteville as an associate professor of mechanical engineering, Obielodan stepped up to serve as the manager of the university’s Prototyping Center—a collaborative effort with WiSys—in 2019.
He is responsible for fabricating and testing patentable technology submitted to WiSys, as well as using his engineering experience to help refine designs and offer feedback to inventors. The projects Obielodan works on come from various UW System campuses and cover a diverse range of technological fields—everything from recreation to agriculture.
“John has been a tremendous asset to WiSys and the state’s inventors,” said WiSys’ Director of Patents and Licensing, Jennifer Souter. “He brings a wealth of experience not only in engineering, but also a product development and design perspective, based on his past industry experience. Many of the ideas that come to WiSys are conceptual in nature and John has helped bring many of them to life.”
During the past two years, Obielodan’s work has supported six patent filings, two of which he is listed as a co-inventor due to his contribution to improvements in design. One of John’s notable collaborations was with Sylvia Kehoe, professor of animal and food science at UW-River Falls.
Kehoe came up with an idea to improve the common process of dehorning livestock. Nearly all dairy farms in Wisconsin practice some form of dehorning, most often using a caustic paste on calves. To curtail the risk of secondary exposures to both handlers and other animals to the caustic paste, Kehoe developed an adhesive patch for safe application.
Kehoe said she relied on Obielodan’s design expertise, creative input, and persistent testing of multiple versions to develop a working prototype. “I believe we went through five different versions only to land on one of our first ones,” Kehoe said. “He never complained and is such a team player.”
A patent is pending on the patch and WiSys is currently seeking a strategic partner that can manufacture and bring it to the marketplace. For more information on accessing this technology, contact WiSys at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prolific Inventor in His Own Right
The opportunity to collaborate and work on diverse multidisciplinary projects has been very stimulating and fulfilling, said Obielodan, who is also an inventor with several patents pending.
“I always derive satisfaction from solving problems,” he said. “I derive satisfaction from seeing the outcome of my contributions and completing what I’ve set out to do.”
The work also allows Obielodan to be an example for future inventors. He includes students in his work, giving them hands-on experiences to “learn in a creative fashion how to solve problems together,” Obielodan said.
When he isn’t helping other inventors or mentoring students, Obielodan explores his own research passions, primarily focused on novel materials development through additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing processes.
Obielodan is one of the most active faculty members in working with WiSys to seek grants for his work and submit inventions for intellectual property protection when he sees the potential for commercialization. In the past seven years, he submitted 10 inventions to WiSys.
WiSys is a strategic partner for inventors, offering multiple layers of service to help stimulate and encourage innovation, assist in patenting and refining ideas, and finding partners to commercialize the work, Obielodan said.
“The role that WiSys plays around the campuses is invaluable,” he said.
WiSys is a nonprofit organization that works with faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the UW System to facilitate cutting-edge research programs, develop, and commercialize discoveries and foster a spirit of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking across the state.