The Millstone Times February 2022

Interesting People Throughout HistorY: Dean Kamen By Pam Teel

Dean Kamen, born in 1951, is an American inventor, engineer, and businessman. He is well known for his invention of the Segway PT, an electric, self-balancing human transporter with a computer-controlled gyroscopic stabilization and control system. The device is balanced on two parallel wheels and is controlled by moving body weight. He also invented iBOT, an all-terrain elec- tric wheelchair, as well as founding the non- profit organization FIRST, with Woodie Flowers, and the STEM programs that are used in most schools. Kamen holds over 1,000 patents. He invented the self-balancing electric scooter in 2001, and it was the man he sold the company to, not Kamen himself, who died in a Segway accident in 2010. Kamen also invented the very first portable drug infusion pump before he came up with the Segway. He invented it after his brother, a medical student, told him how tough it was on outpatients who needed medicine around the clock because they had to make frequent hospital visits. His compa- ny, Auto Syringe, manufactured and marketed the first drug infusion pump. He founded the Auto Syringe Company in 1976 and then sold it in 1982 for millions of dollars to work on another device that would convert any water, no matter how dirty, into clean drinking water. Born in Long Island, New York, Kamen was raised in a Jewish family. His father, Jack, is an illus- trator for Mad, Weird Science, and other EC Comics publications. During Kamen’s teenage years, he was already being paid for his ideas. Local bands and museums paid him to build light and sound systems, earning him $60,000 a year before his high school graduation. He then attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute, but in 1976 dropped out before graduating to start up his auto syringe com- pany. His company, DEKA, also holds patents for the technology used in portable dialysis machines, along with his insulin pump (based on the drug infusion pump technology), and his all-terrain electric wheelchair known as the iBOT, which uses many of the same gyroscopic balancing technol- ogies that later made their way into the Segway. He has worked extensively on a project involving Stirling engine designs, attempting to create two machines: one that would generate power, and the Slingshot that would serve as a water purifica-

tion system. He hopes the project will help improve living standards in developing countries. Kamen has a patent on his water purifier and other patents pending. In 2014, the film SlingShot was released, detailing Kamen's quest to use his vapor compression distiller to fix the world's water crisis. Kamen is also the co-inventor of a compressed air device that would launch a human into the air in order to quickly launch SWAT teams or other emer- gency workers to the roofs of tall, inaccessible buildings. In 2009, Kamen stated that his company DEKA was also working on solar powered inventions. Kamen and DEKA also developed the DEKA Arm System or "Luke", a prosthetic arm replacement that offers its user much more fine motor control than traditional prosthetic limbs. It was approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2014, and DEKA is looking for partners to mass-produce the prosthesis. In 1989, Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization intended to build students' interests in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In 1992, working with MIT Professor Emeritus Woodie Flowers, Kamen created the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), which evolved into an international competition involving 3,647 teams and serving more than 91,000 students as of 2020. FIRST organizes multiple robotics competition leagues for students in grades K-12, including FLL JR. (FIRST Lego League Jr.) for younger elementary school students, FLL (FIRST Lego League) for older elementary school and middle school students, FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) for middle and high school students, and FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) for high school students. In 2017, FIRST held the inaugural event of its first Olympics-style com- petition – FGC (FIRST Global Challenge) – in Washington, D.C. Kamen says that FIRST is the invention he is most proud of, and predicts that the 1 million students who have taken part in the contests so far will be re- sponsible for some significant technological advances in years to come. In 2017, Kamen founded the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) and launched BioFabUSA, a Manufacturing USA Innovation Insti- tute with an $80M grant from the Department of Defense. BioFabUSA's mission is to "...make practical the large-scale manufacturing of engineered tissues and tissue-related technologies, to benefit existing industries and grow new ones" In addition to DoD funding, Kamen brought together a consortium of private sector entities to form a public-private partnership which pledged $214M additional private dollars. In early 2020, ARMI was awarded a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to establish the first Foundry for American Biotechnology, known as NextFab to produce technological solutions that help the United States protect against and respond to health security threats, enhance daily med- ical care, and add to the U.S. bioeconomy." During his career, Kamen has won numerous awards. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1997 for inventing and commercializing biomedical devices and fluid measurement and control systems, and for popularizing engineering among young people. In 1999 he was awarded the 5th Annual Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment, and in 2000 received the National Medal of Technology for inventions that have ad- vanced medical care worldwide. Continued on page 44..

www. 43

Made with FlippingBook Ebook Creator