Finding extraordinary engineers for exceptional clients

Dean Kamen, Engineering Superhero

December 7th, 2012

“You have teenagers thinking they’re going to make millions as NBA stars when that’s not realistic for even 1 percent of them. Becoming a scientist or engineer is.”  -Dean Kamen

Dean Kamen finds excitement not only in engineering and inventing, but in the positive changes that innovation can bring.

Kamen is best known for his creation of the Segway, an electric, upright transportation vehicle controlled by moving body weight that balances on two wheels. In the beginning much speculation was given to the Segway, but now you can everyone from tourists to mailmen to police officers using them.

However fun and exciting the Segway is, Kamen’s greatest inventions lie within the healthcare industry. Kamen strives for his inventions to improve quality of life and raise awareness. While an undergraduate at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, he developed the first portable drug infusion pump, the AutoSyringe. Lives changed for many people that used to require daily hospital care for drug treatments. Patients in chemotherapy, neonatology, and endocrinology all benefited from the product. By age 30 Kamen sold AutoSyringe to Baxter Healthcare Corporation, which also included the creation of the first wearable insulin pump for diabetics.

With the success of the AutoSyringe, Kamen cofounded DEKA Research and Development, to develop more of his own ideas, and allow others to capitalize on their research and ideas as well. DEKA researched and developed many products for corporate partners that requested assistance. With DEKA Kamen further developed the insulin pump for home use, a vascular stent and the iBOT, a motorized wheelchair that can also climb stairs, among others projects.

Although he never graduated college, Kamen believes in and respects the importance of education. In 1989 he started FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). FIRST inspires teenagers to pursue careers in science and technology. The group also holds a spirited annual competition for high school students to build the best working robot. FIRST serves more than 250,000 students per year in 50 countries and distributes more than $14 million in college scholarships.

Kamen’s latest projects are off-grid electricity and water purification for developing countries and an improved prosthetic arm for amputee soldiers. The “Luke Arm,” named for the prosthetic worn by Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Army Research Office, and could bring relief to many maimed soldiers. Typical prosthetic arms only have two to three degrees of function and movement. The Luke Arm has ten.

Kamen has received numerous awards for his life-changing innovations including the National Medal of Technology and a place in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Contact The Talley Group to become your own engineering superhero.

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