Dean Kamen receives the Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment for a set of inventions that have advanced medical care worldwide and for his dedication to awakening America's next generation to the excitement of careers in science and technology.
Mr. Kamen has made significant contributions to medical technology, with inventions that range from drug pumps to innovative dialysis machines. But despite this work and the success it has brought him, Mr. Kamen has found time to create and nurture US FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an enterprise committed to enhancing public respect for the fields of science and technology and inspiring the next generation to pursue them. Motivated by a deep belief in the power and importance of education, he has coaxed, cajoled, and inspired an extraordinary array of corporate, education and government leaders into joining him in this remarkable effort.
His crusade on behalf of science and technology began in 1984 when he created Science Enrichment Encounters, an interactive science learning center in Manchester, New Hampshire that is visited by 40,000 children each year. His idea was to help young people see science and technology as fun, exciting, accessible, and rewarding. This idea was the genesis for US FIRST, an organization that Mr. Kamen views as an opportunity to both teach children and to motivate them. He wants them to view engineers and scientists as role models and heroes.
Mr. Kamen is a brilliant inventor, an engineer, a physicist, and a walking encyclopedia of nearly all the physical and biological sciences. The president of DEKA Research and Development Corp. in New Hampshire, he holds more than 100 U.S. patents. While still an undergraduate, he invented the wearable infusion pump, a device that delivers precisely calibrated doses of intravenous medication while the patient goes about his daily business. Later, he developed the world's first portable insulin pump and a revolutionary new portable kidney dialysis machine, both of which have radically transformed the lives of thousands of patients around the world.
In a recent interview, Mr. Kamen expressed concerns that the world's most crucial problems - pollution, hunger, depletion of natural resources, destruction of the ozone layer and contamination of the seas - are not being properly addressed. World leaders rely on legislative and political remedies, he says, not technical solutions. Mr. Kamen believes that tomorrow's scientists and engineers will create those solutions, and he is dedicated to developing the young people who will be able to do just that.
Dean Kamen embodies the best attributes of the engineer devoted to human welfare. His vocation - inventing and developing innovative medical devices - and his avocation of inspiring young people to become excited about science and technology evoke his unbounded enthusiasm, energy, and faith in our future.
Note: This profile is excerpted from the commemorative brochure published at the time of the awards' presentation.
UPDATES SINCE RECEIVING THE HEINZ AWARD
April 2011 - Dean Kamen receives the first-ever Hunt Institute Visionary Award. "We are honoring Dean Kamen for his success, his vision and his support in training a new generation of engineers who are committed to meeting the challenges of the developing world," said Hunter Hunt. He and his wife, Stephanie, founded Southern Methodist University's Hunt Institute of Engineering and Humanity, which is devoted to solving problems faced by impoverished communities. - AOL News
November 2010 - The Franklin Institute's mission is to inspire an understanding of and passion for science and technology learning. Encouraging excellence and recognizing the far reaching impact of the laureates' achievements is one important way to preserve the legacy of Benjamin Franklin. The 2011 recipient of the Franklin Medal in Mechanical Engineering is Dean Kamen. - The Franklin Institute
October 2010 - ISA continues its tradition of honoring leaders throughout the automation industry by presenting the Automation Founders Circle awards. This year's recipient of the Honorary Member award is Dean Kamen, the highest honor bestowed by the Society. - InTech
October 2009 - Dean Kamen, a prolific inventor holding more than 440 US and foreign patents, and whose groundbreaking ideas have transformed the way people take their medications, move about in daily life, and hope one day to produce energy and clean water, is this year's recipient of the Stevens Honor Award. First bestowed in 1945, the award was designed to honor notable achievement in any field of endeavor. Kamen joins a long and diverse list of distinguished recipients, including artist Alexander Calder, and futurist and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller. - Stevens News Service
October 2007 - DEKA Research and Dean Kamen have produced a prototype prosthetic arm that can lift up to 40 pounds and will enable an amputee with only minimal control to perform tasks ranging from eating M&Ms one at a time to using a portable power drill. It is still 15 to 18 months away from the commercial market, but the progress that Mr. Kamen has been able to make was on display this month in Anaheim, Calif., at DARPAtech 2007. - The New York Times
October 2006 - Sundance Channel and Grey Goose Entertainment will air the second season of their original television series, Iconoclasts. Each hour-long program features two leading innovators from different fields who come together to discuss their passions and creative processes. Dean Kamen, inventor and entrepreneur is paired with the actress, Isabella Rossellini. - PR Newswire
January 2005 - Kamen receives an honorary membership from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers "for innovating numerous medical devices, thereby improving the quality of life for many." - Institute of Electrical and Electronics
December 2004 - Kamen is the 2004 recipient of the Harold Berger Award which goes to individuals whose technological innovation has significantly changed lives. Kamen receives this honor for inventing several devices and machines that have alleviated some of the difficulties in the lives of invalids and diabetics. - Penn Engineering News
November 2003 - Kamen shops his latest invention around the world to get a feel for its potential popularity. The invention is a closed system water purifier, one that is "powered by what fuel is at hand, that traps the energy released when the boiled water vapor recondenses," and thus essentially recycles heat. The device will only cost about $1,000 and will make 10 gallons of drinkable water every hour, thus addressing the serious global issue of water contamination deaths. - Time
October 2003 - Kamen's latest invention, the iBot wheelchair, is approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The chair, which climbs stairs, will require an actual doctor's prescription and training before it can be used. - Appliance Manufacturer
April 2003 - Kamen receives a Common Wealth Award for Distinguished Service from the PNC Financial Services Group. The awards go to individuals "who have enriched and advanced humanity through their exceptional lifetime achievements", and specifically to Kamen for his "breakthrough medical and transportation devices."
December 2002 - Kamen's latest invention, an electric scooter that he calls the Segway Human Transporter, is now available to the public. So far it has been picked up primarily by law enforcement officers and college security forces as it "is faster than a running human being," and is helpful for "interacting with the community and remaining visible" in addition to catching criminals. - TheTelegram & Gazette
November 2002 - Kamen is honored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers "for his development of innovative technologies" and for creating and directing the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) program, which hosts learning oriented competitions and which encourages student achievement in the fields of science and technology. His contributions are honored specifically by the ASME with the Ralph Coats Roe Medal. - The Union Leader
April 2002 - Kamen is honored with the Lemelson-MIT prize for inventors. He receives the $500,000 prize for his "development of the self-balancing scooter and of an infusion pump that has allowed diabetics to lead more normal lives." - Lemelson-MIT
April 2001 - Kamen wins the Presidential Medal from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the school from which he holds an honorary degree. The award "recognizes individuals who exemplify the idea of the 'technological humanist,'" and Kamen receives it for his "extraordinary technical prowess" and myriad life changing inventions. - M2 Presswire
December 2000 - Kamen wins the National Medal of Technology for years worth of life changing inventions and for his tireless campaigns to involve America's youth in the realm of science and technology. The award is the nation's highest technological honor. - New Hampshire Sunday News