“My experience in the United States Army afforded me the opportunity to work hard while making a difference for my country. The USPTO allows me to continue doing this, day in and day out."
A foundation of hard work and dedication
Raised on a farm in rural Clinton, North Carolina, Twyler, a supervisory patent examiner (SPE) at the USPTO, learned early in life the importance of a strong work ethic. At age six, before her feet could even reach the clutch, she was driving a tractor with her father across the fields on her family’s farm. During the summer months, Twyler could be found helping her family harvest crops and preparing to sell items at a local market. After years of balancing the family farm tasks with her school demands, she decided to set her sights on pursuing an educational path that would open a whole new world of opportunities for her.
Twyler always had a natural aptitude for math and science and at the urging of her cousin, she considered engineering. Enter an Army ROTC scholarship she earned during high school that would direct Twyler’s new path towards pursuing a degree in electrical engineering at North Carolina A&T State University (NC A&T), one of the country’s prominent historically Black colleges and universities. Also the nation’s leading producer of Black engineers, NC A&T gave Twyler an experience that laid the groundwork for a long and meaningful career of continuous service to her country.
While in school, Twyler successfully managed her Army ROTC duties with a rigorous engineering course load, part-time jobs, and active participation in several engineering and public service organizations. In each, she held leadership positions while mentoring younger students and fellow cadets.
“Effective time management was incredibly important while I pursued my degree,” says Twyler. “The ability to prioritize tasks became even more important while serving in the military and now at the USPTO.”
Years later, in a leadership role at America’s Innovation Agency, she still draws on these fundamental principles of hard work, dedication and service.
A mission-focused career
As the first of her siblings to have attended a four-year university, Twyler went on to achieve many other firsts that decorate an admirable and distinguished career.
After graduating from NC A&T, Twyler was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army Signal Corps. During her tenure in the military, she served in Korea as a communications officer, then went on to write software used for aircraft testing, becoming the first Black woman company commander to command the troop component of Combat Systems Test Activity at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. Twyler resigned her commission at the grade of captain after serving as the mobilization officer for the US Army Ordnance School.
After a brief stint in the private sector, Twyler desired a professional opportunity that would marry her technical engineering expertise with her passion for public service.
She recalled learning about the USPTO and its mission to protect American intellectual property while visiting the career development center at NC A&T.
“I was fascinated by the USPTO’s mission and especially intrigued at the possibility of combining my growing interest in law with my electrical engineering background,” says Twyler. “I knew this was the perfect organization to establish roots in a civilian career and to know that my work would support American innovation.”
When she started with the agency in 1997, Twyler examined patents in image analysis and network printing. She examined patent applications focused on technologies that are now widely available to the public, including medical imaging for electrocardiogram (EKG) and computerized tomography (CT) scan devices used in hospitals and medical offices. The inventions she has examined are also found in equipment used in many office environments, such as copiers and multifunctional devices, like scanner, printer, and fax combinations. They are also found in digital cameras and nearly every smartphone on the market. As a patent examiner, Twyler saw these technologies first.
“The opportunity to be on the cutting edge of industry, knowing that I help drive the economy by protecting the intellectual property rights of American inventors is especially rewarding,” Twyler offers when asked about the many reasons she loves working at the USPTO.
Currently, Twyler serves as a SPE in the electrical engineering technology center specializing in communications involving visual display systems. One of the most rewarding aspects of her current supervisory role is that it allows her to help others through training and mentorship. She shares that one of the coolest parts of her job is watching her team members meet their goals and achieve their dreams of career fulfillment and success.
Her innate leadership skills serve her well at the agency, but she credits the USPTO’s collegial culture for giving her the confidence to step into roles that would challenge her.
“I never sought out positions in leadership within the Patents organization,” says Twyler. “But I was fortunate to be paired with a supervisor who saw my leadership abilities.” That supervisor – who was a fellow NC A&T alum – not only recognized Twyler’s leadership qualities, but her penchant for training new hires, and ultimately encouraged her to become a SPE.
“That kind of nurturing, caring atmosphere doesn’t exist everywhere,” she says. “And I recognize how special that makes a place like the USPTO.”
Continuing service at the USPTO
Beyond the camaraderie of the Patents organization, Twyler has found a supportive and thriving community of military veterans at the USPTO. Opportunities for both professional and personal growth abound at the USPTO and can take on any shape: from career advancement, into positions of leadership, to diverse work experiences through details in different business units. Many veterans become active with the USPTO Military Association and hold office positions on its board.
Twyler has expanded her love of mentorship and training into recruitment, serving as a Veterans Hiring Lead. In this role, she actively seeks to recruit other qualified veterans to help protect American innovation.
She emphasizes that to successfully contribute to the USPTO’s mission, interested veterans must desire to continue serving our country.
“My experience in the US Army afforded me the opportunity to work hard while making a difference for my country. The USPTO allows me to continue doing this, day in and day out,” Twyler highlights.
She notes that military veteran candidates tend to have the ability and experience to assess situations and to make timely, informed decisions. She describes patent examining as “independent work that requires the ability to analyze an application, understand the invention, and make sound decisions regarding its novelty.”
Twyler goes on to say that “patent examining is production-based work, so to excel, you must take ownership of your work and develop your own methods of effective examination.” This level of autonomy and rigor requires a strong work ethic and time management.
When asked what advice she would share with veterans that may be interested in becoming a patent examiner, she says “if you have a degree in one of the engineering disciplines or hard (physical) sciences like chemistry, biology, and physics, and love being on the cutting-edge of technology, the USPTO is a great place to work. Our work-life-friendly, inclusive environment is ever evolving and pushes us to learn new things. It’s been a great place to continue serving the American people.”