Entrepreneur-in-Residence Announced for WPI Entrepreneurs Collaborative

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - Robert J. Harvey, a successful biomedical engineer, will be WPI's Entrepreneur-in-Residence during the 1997 fall term. In addition to offering a course for the Entrepreneurs Collaborative, he will serve as distinguished professor in Biomedical Engineering.

Accompanying Harvey is his wife Sue, who will serve as an adjunct assistant professor and tutor in WPI's Writing Center. She has taught in Stanford University's Tutorial Center and has been a lecturer in Stanford's English Department. Her doctorate is form Tufts University, where she was an expository writing instructor.

"WPI is fortunate to have both Harveys here for a term," says WPI Provost John F. Carney III. "They bring exceptional experience and enthusiasm to WPI and have a great interest in the development of our students."

Harvey co-founded Thoratec Laboratories Corp., Berkeley, Calif., in 1976 with J. Donald Hill, M.D., chief of cardiovascular surgery, California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco. Harvey recently retired as chair, CEO and president. Thoratec is a pioneering company in circulatory support for failing hearts, arterial grafts for repairing diseased blood vessels, and the licensing of blood contacting biomaterials. More than $60 million was invested in Thoratec.

Harvey earned his undergraduate degree at the United States Military Academy, West Point, his master's in physics at Drexel University, Philadelphia, and his doctorate in biomedical engineering at WPI. For several years preceding his doctorate, he was employed at Thermo Electron Corp., long identified with its entrepreneurial founder, George Hatsopoulos. Harvey played a significant role in diversifying Thermo Electron in the biomedical field, with the first fully integrated artificial heart . He holds 20 patents, including one for a nuclear (radioisotope) powered artificial heart in 1967.

Following his doctorate, and before establishing Thoratec Laboratories, Harvey founded Mirlin Corp. in nearby Hudson, Mass., in order to pursue the commercial potential of a unique protein sweetener for diabetics.

Harvey has served as chair of WPI's Biomedical Engineering advisory committee since its establishment in 1986. This coming fall, he will be collaborating with Professor Robert Peura, department head, in developing space plans and research directions for the growing department. The WPI faculty approved the establishment of an undergraduate degree program for biomedical engineering, a long-time graduate degree only department, in 1996.

During his residence, Harvey will present a series of public seminars on new directions in biomedical engineering, which will be of interest to majors, particularly students interested in entrepreneurial careers in biomedical engineering related businesses.

As Entrepreneur-in-Residence, he will also offer a special course, "My Gold Turned Green." It will feature case studies of three of Harvey's start-up enterprises as well as those of other entrepreneurs with whom Harvey has close acquaintanceship. An assessment of the products, business strategies, problems , and basis for success or failure will be highlighted.

The Harveys, who have three grown sons, have lived on the Stanford campus for the past decade. They have been Resident Fellows at Larkin House, a residence hall for more than 100 Stanford freshmen. They are concluding their service there later this spring.

The Entrepreneurs Collaborative is the sponsor of Harvey's visit. Created in late 1993 by Donald F. Berth and Arthur Gerstenfeld, the Collaborative developed a highly popular introductory course; a minor, approved by the WPI faculty in early 1996; an entrepreneur-in- residence program; and a growing array of projects involving WPI undergraduates with entrepreneurs in their respective business settings. To date, approximately 175 undergraduates have participated in at least one of the Collaborative's offerings. Chickery J. Kasouf, associate professor of management, has joined Berth as one of the principals in the Entrepreneurs Collaborative.

"I've kept an eye on Bob Harvey, whom I met about a decade ago," says Berth. "Not only has he been an entrepreneur in an especially hot technology, which is of special interest here in the Worcester area, because of the Biotech park, but he is especially committed to WPI, thanks to his long association with Professor Bob Peura and our Biomedical Engineering faculty."

Last year's Entrepreneur-in-Residence was Rolf Jensen of Deerfield, Ill. He taught a course entitled "Pursuing Creativity," which offered insights into how to build a personal service business. Jensen, himself, developed the nation's largest consulting practice in fire protection engineering.