Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Dean Kamen

Dean Kamen is an inventor and entrepreneur. Some other terms to describe him are "ubermaker, technology visionary, science evangelist" (from Make magazine).He invented the Segway, a vapor compression distiller, the Luke Arm (a prosthetic arm, imspired by Luke Skywalker's),the iBot mobility system (an all terrain wheelchair, that can also elevate the occupant to eye level, check out the link for some great pics), the Auto syringe. Dean Kamen alos founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) to get high school students excited about science and technology. He founded hi own company, DEKA, in 1982 and is self taught/ a college dropout.
This is taken from the DEKA website:

"Founded in 1982 by Dean Kamen, DEKA consisted of a relatively small group of individuals and lots of innovative ideas. Today, almost 200 engineers, technicians, and machinists work in our electronics and software engineering labs, machine shop, and on CAD stations. Our facilities have been designed to promote constant interaction between and within the engineering groups. Our on-site machine shop and molding facility are central to the success of our projects; ideas are prototyped and tested in record time.

DEKA is a company where the questioning of conventional thinking is encouraged and practiced by everyone - engineers and non-engineers alike -because open minds are more likely to arrive at workable solutions. This has been our formula for success since we began, and it will continue to drive our success in the future."

Why he is important: Dean Kamen is important because he is making products that make a difference in people's live and in the world. His goal isn't to make stuff or money, but to make the world a better place. He's also reaching out to younger generations in order to get them excited about science and technology. He is designing products to slove social issues.

Other interesting bits: In an interview with William Lindwell from MAKE Magazine, Dean spoke about the shear volume of stuff that's on the market. He marveled at the man power, money, energy that it took to design, produce and package all that stuff and how wasteful and appaling that is, and my first thought was "Dude, you invented the Segway. . ." I guess it goes to show that even top producers sometimes miss the mark.
Dean Kamen lives in a hexagonal house he designed himself, and named "Westwind" and seems to be typically eccentric for a multimillionare. His pet peeve is wasting time, and his (apparently nameless and faceless) employees make him a top secret, spectacular Christmas present every year.

He's been written about in: Make, Time, Wired, The New York Times, Smithsonian and also appeared on the Colbert Report and gave a TED Talk.

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