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University Lecture

Physicist, inventor, and entrepreneur Dean Kamen ’73 delivered WPI’s first University Lecture on Nov. 3 before a crowd of 550 in Alden Memorial. The annual lecture, sponsored by the Office of the President, was established to bring to WPI speakers of national and international importance to enhance scholarly and scientific learning and stimulate intellectual exchange within the university and Worcester communities.

Kamen spoke about his latest project—a device that brings clean drinking water and electricity to communities who have no such access—which could save lives, one village at a time. Worldwide, more than 1 billion people have no access to clean water. And in Africa, waterborne pathogens are the number one cause of disease. “It seemed to me it would be the right thing to do,” the social entrepreneur said of his devices.

Kamen has dedicated his life to developing technologies that help people lead better lives. He holds more than 200 U.S. and foreign patents, many of them for innovative medical devices that have expanded the frontiers of health care. While still an undergraduate at WPI, he invented the first wearable drug infusion pump. He founded DEKA Research & Development Corporation to develop his inventions and provide R&D for major corporate clients.

Three of DEKA’s notable breakthroughs are the HomeChoice portable dialysis machine, the Independence iBOT 3000 Mobility System, and the Segway Human Transporter.

Among Kamen’s proudest accomplishments is founding FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989. The organization is dedicated to motivating the next generation to understand, use, and enjoy science and technology.

Kamen has received numerous awards and accolades, including the National Medal of Technology in 2000 and the Lemelson-MIT Prize for Invention and Innovation in 2002. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May 2005.
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Last modified: Dec 20, 2005, 15:21 EST
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