As with many people, Steve Mosher’s career shifted from his original plan to become an engineer. But unlike others, his knowledge of engineering was, in part, what led him to law school 22 years later.
In 1963, Mosher enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, knowing the draft was “an ever-present possibility.” He served four years in the technical field of the Air Force before attending Iowa State for electrical engineering, finding that working with electronics was comfortable for him.
After graduating from Iowa State in 1970, Mosher worked for Motorola in Chicago and Gates Radio Company in Quincy, Illinois, before settling down in Texas, where he and his wife have lived for 40 years.
Mosher worked in the computer design department at Tandy Corporation—renamed RadioShack in 2000—for 10 years before he began helping the company with patent matters. Mosher’s help was solicited because of his extensive knowledge with the company’s products and computer systems.
“Tandy manufactured and sold a lot of electronic products, and it was a big target for a lot of patent holders,” says Mosher, “so the law department would call upon me to help analyze these patents.”
He did that for several years and became a registered patent agent, but the company said he should attend law school to continue. Mosher agreed, attending Texas Wesleyan University School of Law for three years at night while working full-time to earn his law degree.
It was hard work, he says, adding, “It was like having a second full-time job.” Although it was a busy and stressful time, Mosher says it was made easier because he “thoroughly enjoyed” law school, and he was given opportunities that led him to a very satisfying career.
“You meet people along the way who open doors for you, and I was just lucky that way,” he says. “And I think my Iowa State education had something to do with that.
“Engineering is really just applied science, and I’ve always been interested in that. Iowa State feeds that kind of interest with a really great curriculum and great teachers.”
Mosher says one of his favorite parts about being an engineer was the chance to design products that would be offered for sale. He enjoys having the experience because it becomes easier to know what works or what doesn’t, and if something doesn’t, how it can be made to work.
Even with the “great” education Mosher received from Iowa State, he realized that learning really never stops. “Technology changes so rapidly,” he says. “You may graduate one year and two years later the technology you thought you understood is different.”
That’s true for any field, he adds, mentioning that lawyers are required to take continuing education seminars each year. In his specific area, Mosher has to stay current in both law and technology.
Mosher says he still uses his engineering background every day as a practicing lawyer in patent prosecution, licensing and litigation support. His technical knowledge helps him think of questions the inventors he works with may not have considered about their products.
“Part of my job is to understand what these inventors are doing and to fill in the gaps in their own knowledge,” says Mosher.
Patent attorneys are required to have a science or engineering degree, but Mosher believes engineering is useful in any career. “I’ve often thought that an engineering degree is very much a really good general kind of education that suits one to do all kinds of things.”