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Seeing what can’t be seen

By: Lynn Staggs
Seeing what can’t be seen
Inventor and innovator Tiejun J. Xia brings his expertise to Verizon’s network architecture team.

At Verizon, we’re inspired and motivated by innovators. So we’re sharing stories from #InventorsWhoInspire as a way to connect with inventors, patent winners, and men and women we’ve met in the tech industry who can offer the best advice on how to create a brighter future for all.

It’s not courage, but passion, that drives Tiejun J. Xia in his quest for invention. The creative process for TJ is “nothing but a long time pondering ‘why?’ and ‘why not?’.”

As a research scientist who left the University of Michigan to work for Verizon, TJ brings his technical expertise to Verizon’s network architecture team where the focus is on technology development for optical fiber communications.

TJ applied for his first patent more than 20 years ago and now has more than 70 granted U.S. patents under his belt. When he approaches a problem, TJ says:

I focus on not only the parts I can see, but also the parts I cannot see.

Tiejun J. Xia

Once he completes his idea, he uses a PowerPoint presentation to draw his invention so others can easily understand it.

TJ says he’s still working on becoming a good inventor that pushes the innovation frontier -- but no PowerPoint presentation is necessary to understand he’s already accomplished that goal

What else does TJ think about being an inventor? We asked and here are a few of his thoughts ...

What inspires you?

Great people’s accomplishments always inspire me. I believe no matter how great the accomplishment, it most likely started with an infant idea. The very first step of invention and innovation is to create that infant idea.

What sparks your innovation?

Basically three things -- challenge, problem and need.

Tell me a little bit about your inventions and how you come up with ideas.

My inventions are mainly in technology developments for optical fiber communications. Ideas normally come up when we try to solve technical problems, to improve equipment performance or to generate new features for Verizon’s global network.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to turn an idea into reality?

Make sure the idea is original and pay attention to the market value of the idea.

What advice would you give any aspiring inventor with an idea?

Sharpen your observation skills so if you see challenges, problems and needs, you already are half way to generating new ideas!

Where would you like to take your idea?

I would like to see more of my inventions become real world solutions to serve people’s needs.

Read about other inventors who inspire us: