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Honoring Floridian inventors: USF to launch Inventors Hall of Fame on Tampa campus


Many inventors have contributed to making society function more efficiently through innovations and inventions with little or no recognition.

When USF Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation Paul Sanberg attended the induction ceremony at the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Alexandria, Va., he said there was a shockingly low number of Floridians who were acknowledged for their contributions.

The lack of Floridians represented at the Hall of Fame was shocking to Sanberg, who said he has seen USF grow into a center for invention and innovation.

“I really wanted to see something that would honor all of the Floridians who have had a significant impact on our state and nation,” he said.

Sanberg, who is the founder and president of the National Academy of Inventors, said he thinks it’s important Florida recognize the great inventors who worked and lived here.

“By putting in so much energy to help create this, we will continue to show how important innovation is to the University of South Florida, the Tampa Bay region and the whole state of Florida,” Sanberg said.

As of now, the project is not funded by the government, but Sanberg said he hopes the Hall of Fame can run as a self-funded project. The National Inventors Hall of Fame, however, is supported by the national government, specifically the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“It will be paid for through philanthropy,” Sanberg said. “We hope people will buy tables at the event and come to it as well. We think that the idea of honoring these individuals will result in a lot of giving (toward the event),” he said.

The Hall of Fame will honor past and present Floridians, including the likes of Thomas Edison, who conducted experiments at a lab in Fort Myers in his later life.

“(Anyone) who spent part of or a majority of their life in Florida and contributed to our state will be considered for induction,” Sanberg said.

USF President Judy Genshaft said she hopes the Hall of Fame will attract the general public to USF.

“It brings in a lot of very prestigious people from around the world who get to know USF, and helps us position our faculty and people for honors and awards,” Genshaft said at a recent BOT meeting.

There is a 29-member advisory board that has been organized to review nominations for the new inductees.

Genshaft will sit on the advisory board along with representatives from the John F. Kennedy Space Center, University of Miami, Museum of Science and Industry , as well as Congress members.

Financial support has come from many institutions and organizations statewide, which Sanberg said has been a promising sign.

“The next step is to organize a selection committee and send out nomination forms,” he said. “We will look across the state for any nominees who have had a significant impact on the state of Florida.”

While the specific location of the project on the Tampa campus has not been determined, Sanberg said he is excited to see how much the Hall of Fame will benefit the university and students at USF.

“As we move forward and have our event, it would be great to have any volunteer students help out,” Sanberg said. “Within the students, faculty and the community at USF, and statewide throughout Florida, we have great inventors. This is just one small step in showing how important Florida is to the nation.”