Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dean Kamen

I had the pleasure of meeting Dean at a retirement dinner for his older brother, and Pediatric Oncologist, Bart Kamen. Bart saved my son's life when Scotty got Hodgkin's disease at age 10 (complete remission 6 months later). Both are fine men, just two more guys who make me proud to be an American.

Dean L. Kamen
 (born April 5, 1951) is an American entrepreneur and inventor from New Hampshire.
Born in Rockville Centre, New York, he attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute, but dropped out before graduating after five years of private advanced research for drug infusion pump AutoSyringe.[citation needed] He is the son of Jack Kamen, an illustrator for MadWeird Science and other EC Comics publications.



President Bill Clinton and Kamen in theWhite House, Kamen riding the iBOT Mobility System


Kamen is best known for inventing the product that eventually became known as the Segway PT, an electric, self-balancing human transporter with a sophisticated, computer-controlled gyroscopic stabilization and control system. The device balances on two parallel wheels and is controlled by moving body weight. The machine's development was the object of much speculation and hype after segments of a book quoting Steve Jobs and other notable IT visionaries espousing its society-revolutionizing potential were leaked in December 2001.

Kamen Stirling Generator 10 coupled to Water Still 12 (from US patent 7,340,879)
Kamen 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 purification system.[1] He hopes the project will help improve living standards in developing countries.[2][3] Kamen has a patent issued on his water purifier, U.S. Patent 7,340,879, and other patents pending. Kamen claims that his company DEKA is now working on solar power inventions.[3]
Kamen is also the co-inventor of a compressed-air-powered device which would launch a human into the air in order to quickly launch SWAT teams or other emergency workers to the roofs of tall, inaccessible buildings.[4][5]
Kamen was already a successful and wealthy inventor, after inventing the first drug infusion pump and starting a company, AutoSyringe, to market and manufacture the pump.[6]His company DEKA also holds patents for the technology used in portable dialysis machines, an insulin pump (based on the drug infusion pump technology)[7], and 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.


In 1989, Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a program for students to get people interested in science, technology, and engineering. One competition started and run by FIRST is the FRC or FIRST Robotics Competition. In 2011, it held 55 regional competitions around the globe, and one international competition in St. Louis, MO.[8] FIRST has gained a great deal of publicity from companies such as Autodesk, BAE Systems, Bausch and Lomb, CNN, General Electric, General Motors, Google, Microsoft, National Instruments, Coca-Cola, Boston Gears, Motorola, Delphi, Kodak, Johnson and Johnson, Rockwell Automation, Xerox, Harris, Underwriter's Laboratories, Microchip, Caterpillar and PTC as well as many Universities and colleges.
FIRST has many robotic programs, including the Jr.FLL (Junior FIRST Lego League) and the FLL (FIRST Lego League) for younger students, and the FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) and the FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) for high school aged students.[9]
Kamen says that the FIRST competition 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 responsible for some significant technological advances in years to come.[10]


During his career Kamen has won numerous awards. 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 1999 he was awarded the 5th Annual Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment,[11] and in 2000 received the National Medal of Technology from then President Clinton for inventions that have advanced medical care worldwide. 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. In 2003 his "Project Slingshot," a cheap portable water purification system, was named a runner-up for "coolest invention of 2003" by Timemagazine.[12] In 2005 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his invention of the AutoSyringe. In 2006 Kamen was awarded the "Global Humanitarian Action Award" by the United Nations. In 2007 he received the ASME Medal, the highest award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.[13]
Kamen received an honorary "Doctor of Engineering" degree from Kettering University in 2001, an honorary "Doctor of Science" degree from Clarkson University on May 13, 2001, an honorary "Doctor of Science" degree from the University of Arizona on May 16, 2009, and an honorary doctorate from the Wentworth Institute of Technology when he spoke at the college's centennial celebration in 2004, and other honorary doctorates from North Carolina State University in 2005, Bates College in 2007, the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2008,[14] the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2008 and Plymouth State University in May 2008. Kamen, "One of the world's most prominent and prolific inventors", received the prestigious Stevens Honor Award on November 6, 2009, given by the Stevens Institute of Technology and the Stevens Alumni Association.

[edit]Personal life

His primary residence is a hexagonalshed style mansion he has dubbed Westwind,[2] located in Bedford, New Hampshire, just outside of the larger city of Manchester. The house has at least four different levels and is very eclectically conceived, with such things as hallways resembling mine shafts, 1960s novelty furniture, a collection of vintage wheelchairs, spiral staircases and secret passages, an observation tower, a fully equipped machine shop, and a huge cast-iron steam engine which once belonged to Henry Ford built into the center atrium of the house (which is actually small in comparison), which Kamen has had converted into a Stirling engine-powered kinetic sculpture.
Also on the property there is a softball field regularly used by the local police force. Kamen owns two helicopters, which he regularly uses to commute to work, and has a hangar built into the house as well.[15][16][17][18]
He is the main subject of Code Name Ginger: the Story Behind Segway and Dean Kamen's Quest to Invent a New World, a nonfiction narrative book by journalist Steve Kemper published by Harvard Business School Press in 2003 (in paperback as Reinventing the Wheel).
His company, DEKA, annually creates intricate mechanical presents for him. Recently, the company created a robotic chess player, which is a mechanical arm attached to a chess board, as well as a vintage-looking computer with antique wood, and a converted typewriter as a keyboard. In addition, DEKA has recently received funding from DARPA to work on a brain-controlled prosthetic limb called the Luke Arm.[19]
Dean Kamen owns and pilots two Raytheon 390 Beechcraft Premier I jets.[16][20][21]
Kamen is also a member of the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Advisory Board.[22]
Dean of Invention, a TV show on Planet Green starring Kamen and correspondent Joanne Colan, in which they investigate new technologies, premiered on October 22, 2010.[23]

[edit]See also


  1. ^ Colbert and Kamen Solve the World’s Water Problems. Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides. Wired. March 25, 2008
  2. a b Kirsner, Scott (8.07). "Breakout Artist". Wired. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
  3. a b Harris, Mark (22 July 2009). "Segway inventor on future technology"The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-18.
  4. ^ Williams, Chris (16 May 2006). "DARPA plots emergency man-cannon". The Register. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
  5. ^ US Patent Application No. 20060086349
  6. ^ Steve Kemper. Code Name Ginger: the story behind Segway and Dean Kamen's quest to invent a new world. Havard Business School Press. p. 13. ISBN 1-57851-673-0.
  7. ^ Steve Kemper. Code Name Ginger: the story behind Segway and Dean Kamen's quest to invent a new world. Havard Business School Press. p. 19. ISBN 1-57851-673-0.
  8. ^ "FRC Regional Events".
  9. ^ FIRST Official Website - accessed December 23, 2009
  10. ^ Harris, Mark (10 June 2010). "Brain scan: Mr Segway's difficult path"The Economist. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  11. ^ The Heinz Awards, Dean Kamen profile
  12. ^ "The Gartner Fellows: Dean Kamen's Interview". 2003-10-30. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
  13. ^ "ASME Medal"American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  14. ^ "Two Hundredth And Thirtieth Commencement Exercise"Georgia Institute of Technology. 2008-05-03. Retrieved 2011-07-09.
  15. ^ "N-Number Inquiry Results". Retrieved 2009-03-11.
  16. a b "N-Number Inquiry Results". Retrieved 2009-03-11.
  17. ^ "N-Number Inquiry Results". Retrieved 2009-03-11.
  18. ^ Iconoclasts (TV show), Season 2, Show #10. Isabella Rossellini and Dean Kamen November 16, 2006
  19. ^ "New Luke Arm Video - Medgadget". Retrieved 2009-03-11.
  20. ^ "N-Number Inquiry Results". Retrieved 2009-03-11.
  21. ^ "N-Number Inquiry Results". Retrieved 2009-03-11.
  22. ^ retrieved 2010-07-05
  23. ^ About Dean Of Invention: A New Show Dedicated To The World's Greatest Scientific Breakthroughs Of Today

[edit]External links


Steven Colyer said...

I've met this guy. He's awesome.

His older brother Bart cured my son of Cancer. Love you Kamens. Hugs.

Neil Bates said...

Thanks, Steve, and you put so much work into your posts - especially background and references. I'm more a big inspiration guy, which has its place but I leave out some connections that would help readers. Well, Kamen is a talented fellow and I have long yearned to see solar Stirling get a piece of action. I've heard this and that, but why not give it a try.