The Business Year

Dean Kamen

MEXICO - Industry

The Scientist Within

President, DEKA

Bio

As an inventor, Dean Kamen holds more than 440 US and foreign patents, many of them for innovative medical devices that have expanded the frontiers of health care worldwide. He is best known for inventing the Segway. He was also awarded the National Medal of Technology in 2000. Presented by President Clinton, the award was in recognition for inventions that have advanced medical care worldwide and for innovative and imaginative leadership in awakening America to the excitement of science and technology.

DEKA’s mission is “to foster innovation.” What is the history of the company in that regard? I founded DEKA 30 years ago after I sold my first business, AutoSyringe. I […]

DEKA’s mission is “to foster innovation.” What is the history of the company in that regard?

I founded DEKA 30 years ago after I sold my first business, AutoSyringe. I wanted to create a company that was focused completely on the research and development of new technologies. I’m proud to say that in the decades since, my engineers and I have dedicated ourselves to redefining “state-of-the-art” in a number of different areas. There are always challenges and frustrations, but DEKA only takes on projects that will directly benefit our end-users. Knowing that our technology will improve lives is an excellent motivator.

What have been some your proudest achievements in technological innovation?

Asking me what invention I’m most proud of is like asking a parent which of their children is their favorite. I’m very proud of all of DEKA’s inventions because each has brought its own set of challenges and rewards. However, I am particularly encouraged by the growth of our FIRST robotics program, which inspires kids to become excited about pursuing careers in science and technology. Each young innovator we inspire will go on to create incredible inventions, so in that sense, FIRST is the gift that keeps on giving.

Where are you currently focusing your design disciplines, and where does the future lie for DEKA?

We are currently working on a range of projects, from medical devices and prosthetic limbs to water purifiers and Stirling engines. I don’t know what the future holds, but given the great challenges of the 21st century, there is no shortage of new technologies we’ll have the opportunity to work on.

“I’m very proud of all of DEKA’s inventions because each has brought its own set of challenges and rewards.”

You have been quoted as saying: “You have teenagers thinking they’re going to make millions as NBA stars when that’s not realistic for even 1% of them. Becoming a scientist or engineer is.” What would you like young entrepreneurs to understand about the opportunities that contribute to real economic growth?

The benefits of choosing a career in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math exist on both the personal level and the large scale. For a young man or woman, a career in technology will not only provide challenges and intellectual stimulation but also contribute to a productive and successful lifestyle. For a nation, having a population that is developing the next generation of breakthrough technologies will ensure economic growth and global competitiveness. In short, there is no better source of wealth for an individual or for a nation than technology.

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