Cut Off inventor hopes Pathfinder catches eye of president, governor

Lola Dardar
July 27, 2010
Senator Circle residents oppose duplex donation
July 29, 2010
Lola Dardar
July 27, 2010
Senator Circle residents oppose duplex donation
July 29, 2010

The best inventions usually come from the most obscure people. You don’t need to be a multi-millionaire or hold multiple doctorates to create something that changes the world.

That’s Cut Off inventor Webster Pierce’s message.

Inventor of the Pathfinder, a prototype for stopping oil spills at the source, Webster submitted his invention with a detailed drawing and explanation, only to be turned down by BP and the Coast Guard.

“They said it didn’t meet their criteria,” said Pierce. “I feel I exceeded what they expected, because I feel that I can recover 100 percent of [the oil].”

Although Pierce received an e-mail from BP declining his submission, the conglomerate failed to explain why, leaving the inventor scratching his head.

“I’ve interviewed a petroleum engineer, a field foreman superintendent for a major oil company and a drilling superintendent, and I’m consulting with an electrical engineer, and I have not had one person say anything negative about it,” said Pierce. “I’ve done my homework.”

Lt. Commander Mark Wilcox of the Coast Guard’s Alternative Response Technology Division admits the process of explaining to inventors why their entries failed could be improved.

“Some of the entries we give back, some people have felt their response has been a little vague,” said Wilcox. “We usually give some feedback that says whether [the submission is] feasible, or if it’s not even considered, or if it’s being elevated to the next stage of review.”

Wilcox said every entry has received ample time needed to assess the validity of the invention.

But with more than 120,000 entries in BP’s database, it may become easy for a potentially good invention to go unnoticed.

In fact, Wilcox admitted some entries have needed reassessment.

Pierce believes his Pathfinder falls in that category.

“I have equalization. … I have differential pressures solved. I created a partial vacuum,” said Pierce. “I have four cables that are going to stabilize it. … My cables are taking the stress on it. It’s just hanging onto the cables. Just like if you’re on a swing, you’re not going to fall off as long as you’re holding on.”

He created the Pathfinder after C&D Production Specialist Co. approached him and asked him to create a device that could stop the oil from spewing into the Gulf.

Pierce started working on the device two weeks after the explosion. He completed it within a week and currently has a patent pending on it.

“I have a gift,” Pierce said of his inventor skills. “I come from a family of inventors.

“I’m the type of person, I have to prove it to myself before I’ll ever show it to you,” he explained. “So, I try to solve all my problems, then I go show it.”

Since receiving BP’s rejection of the Pathfinder, Pierce has sent letters to LSU, President Barack Obama, Gov. Bobby Jindal, every U.S. senator and state representative to no avail. But the inventor isn’t ready to give up just yet.

“I’m the type of person that never quits,” said Pierce. “I’m like a bull in a china shop.”