Dean Kamen

From Academic Kids

Dean Kamen (born 1951) is an American entrepreneur and inventor. He attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute, but dropped out before graduating.

Career

Kamen is probably most well-known to the public from the publicity surrounding the product that eventually became known as the Segway HT—a kind of electric scooter with a complex, computer-controlled gyroscopic stabilization and control system that keeps the device balanced on two horizontally-placed wheels and controlled by moving body weight. The machine's secret development was the object of much speculation after segments of a book quoting Steve Jobs and other notable IT visionaries espousing its society-revolutionising potential were leaked in 1999.

Kamen founded DEKA Research & Development Corporation in 1982. With the inertia of his inventions, DEKA now employs about 200 people. According to the company's website, DEKA mission is "to foster innovation."

In 1989, Kamen founded the robotics organization, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), for high-school students. In 16 years, in 2005 it held over thirty regional competitions and one national each year. Kamen remains the driving force behind the organization providing over 1000 high schools with the tools needed to learn valuable engineering skills.

However, Kamen was already a successful and wealthy inventor, after inventing a new type of mobile dialysis system for medical applications, as well as an all-terrain electric wheelchair known as the IBOT using many of the same gyroscopic balancing technologies that later made their way into the Segway.

During his impressive career Kamen has won numerous awards. In April 2002, Kamen was awarded the Lemelson-MIT Prize for inventors for his invention of the Segway and of an infusion pump for diabetics. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1997 for his biomedical devices and for making engineering more popular among high school students. In 2000, he was awarded the National Medical of Technology by President Bill Clinton.

Kamen owns the small North Dumpling Island off the coast of Connecticut, and has "declared" the island to be an independent state.

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