Dean Kamen : The Biography of an Inventor


Dean Kamen, born in 1951, is an American inventor, entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for science and technology education. With a career marked by innovation and a commitment to improving lives, Kamen has made significant contributions to various fields, including medicine, transportation, and robotics.

Early Life and Education

Kamen’s fascination with invention began at a young age. He spent his childhood tinkering with electronics and building gadgets in his basement. Despite academic struggles, he displayed a natural talent for engineering and problem-solving. After attending Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Kamen founded his first company, AutoSyringe, while still a student.

Career Highlights and Innovations

Kamen’s most notable inventions include:

  • AutoSyringe: A portable, programmable infusion pump for delivering medications. This invention revolutionized drug delivery and significantly improved patient care.
  • Segway PT: A self-balancing personal transporter that gained widespread attention for its unique design and potential for urban transportation.
  • iBOT: A mobility device that allows users to climb stairs and traverse uneven terrain, providing greater independence for people with mobility impairments.
  • Slingshot: A water purification system that can generate clean drinking water from virtually any source, including contaminated water and seawater.
  • FIRST Robotics Competition: A program Kamen founded to inspire young people’s interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Entrepreneurial Ventures

Kamen founded DEKA Research and Development Corporation, a company dedicated to developing innovative solutions in various fields. DEKA’s projects have ranged from medical devices to energy solutions and military technologies.

Advocacy for STEM Education

Kamen’s passion for STEM education led him to establish FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a non-profit organization that promotes STEM learning through robotics competitions and other programs. FIRST has engaged millions of students worldwide and fostered a new generation of innovators and problem solvers.

Career Timeline

1951Born in Rockville Centre, New York
1976Founds AutoSyringe
1982Founds DEKA Research and Development Corporation
1989Establishes FIRST
1999Unveils the iBOT mobility device
2001Introduces the Segway PT
2009Unveils the Slingshot water purification system

Dean Kamen’s legacy is one of ingenuity, perseverance, and a unwavering commitment to improving the world through technology and education. His inventions have transformed lives, and his advocacy for STEM learning has inspired countless young minds. Kamen’s work continues to push the boundaries of innovation, demonstrating the power of human ingenuity to address global challenges.