Engineer lays down the law

Sam Mickan

Fulbright Scholar Sam Mickan has taken an unusual career path, marrying interests in law and engineering to become one of Australia’s foremost experts on patent applications in his field.

The 36-year-old intellectual property specialist, who has a PhD in Electrical Engineering, has led research teams in Australia and the United States and still holds an adjunct appointment with the University of Adelaide.

Name: Sam Mickan

University degree details:

University of Adelaide − Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical) (Hons.) (1998); Bachelor of Arts (2002), PhD Electronic Engineering (2004)

University of Melbourne – Masters I.P. Law (2009)

Details of any scholarships and awards:

Fulbright Scholarship (2002) from the Australian-American Fulbright Commission and Clough Engineering to study at a well-known engineering school, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York.

University Medallist 2002 and South Australian Tall Poppy of Science 2005-06

How did these scholarships assist you in your study?

I would not have studied abroad without the Fulbright Scholarship. The Fulbright organisation provided guidance and support in Australian and in the US throughout my trip.

What have you been doing since graduation?

Lecturer in School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Adelaide, 2004-2005

Patent Attorney in Davies Collison Cave (Melbourne) 2005-present

Career highlights:

Giving the graduation address to a packed Bonython Hall when I was awarded my PhD.

Why choose University of Adelaide to study?

I was living in Adelaide and the campus is in the heart of the city for transport, retail, commerce and entertainment.

Apart from your academic qualification, how did your experience at the University of Adelaide shape you as a person?

The lifestyle was great, spending most of my days and some nights on a beautiful campus in the heart of the city.  The international connections also helped. The International Office arranged for an undergraduate exchange with Stuttgart University in Germany, and the School of Electrical/ Electronic Engineering had close connections to top research companies and groups around the world.  I also took advantage of the wide variety of student organisations and facilities − the playing fields, the music/drama/art halls, and the equipment storage for clubs.

Advice to incoming students to gain the most from their time at university:

Be as obsessive as you can about everything at the University: your classes, the lecturers, other students, the clubs and societies, scholarship and travel opportunities, your friendships, and your career.  The more the better.

Any tips re finding work after graduation?

I think it’s like finding a girlfriend/boyfriend: the search can require sustained effort and making a good impression on lots of people, but once you’ve found mutual love, you can stop looking.

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