Dittrich honored at Hall of Fame for "breakaway rim"

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Toby Dittrich, Local 2277 (PCCFFAP) member and physics instructor at Portland Community College was honored this week by the Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield, Massachusetts, for co-invention of the “breakaway rim.” This invention revolutionized professional basketball, and made careers of many players by allowing them to show off their fancy moves, including “slam dunking” the ball, without shattering the backboard. It  has also provided safety for millions who play the game for recreation.

Dittrich, along with Arthur Ehrat (Virden, IL) both received patents on the breakaway rim and were partners in the licensing of the device to over a dozen companies for 13 years ending when Mr. Dittrich’s patent expired in 2001. On April 15, both attended a ceremony at the Hall of Fame, and donated the original breakaway rim to the museum.

Dittrich is now hoping to revolutionize education. He is currently securing patents for, and seeking a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences for his latest invention in education software, Virtual Oral Resuscitation Examination system (VORE). This program is an automated grading system, where students give answers orally for computer-generated questions, and the system identifies and matches particular phrases or words. The more descriptive the student's answer, the more points are awarded for each answer.

“It’s amazing to be at the forefront of education. With this system I have the opportunity to influence billions of students which is mind-boggling,” said Dittrich, who says an instructor in a traditional classroom will influence some 3,000 students during the course of their career.

Read a great article by Eric Gundersen of The Columbian on Dittrich and his breakaway rim invention.