I Give

2001-2002

Dean Kamen is Commencement Speaker at Worcester Polytechnic Institute

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/April 3, 2002
Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

Worcester, MA - April 3, 2002 - Dean Kamen, a technological visionary, former Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) student and inventor of the "Segway" human transporter will be the commencement speaker at WPI's graduation ceremonies on Saturday, May 18 at the University's campus. Commencement ceremonies begin at 11 a.m.

Kamen is a master at turning "what ifs" into lucrative products. His previous inventions - which include a miniature infusion pump for diabetics and a portable kidney dialysis machine for home use - have made him a multimillionaire. Kamen entered WPI with the Class of 1973, but left before completing his degree. He was awarded an honorary doctor of engineering degree in 1992. His passion is finding ways to inspire American youth to pursue careers in science and engineering. To that end, he created a hands-on learning center called SEE (Science Enrichment Encounters) and a foundation called FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), which sponsors a national robotics competition that teams professional engineers with high school students from around the country.

Nothing pleases Kamen more than putting his resources and the talent of his company, DEKA Research & Development Corp., behind a new pet project. So when Kamen was struck, one evening, by the sight of a young man in a wheelchair unable to get over a curb at a shopping mall, his mind would not let go of that injustice. Instead of changing the world, Kamen set out to rethink the chair.

A decade later, The Independence(TM) 3000 IBOT(TM) Trans-porter is undergoing FDA clinical trials. Its development has captured the attention of USA Today, Scientific American, The Wall Street Journal, and NBC's Dateline, as well as Wired and InfoWorld. Once approved, it will be marketed by Independence Technology, a Johnson & Johnson company that has been working in cooperation with DEKA, with a $100 million investment from the health care giant. When the IBOT is rolled out - possibly later this year - it will open the door to new freedom for millions of wheelchair users and glide into a $2 billion global market.

"Dean Kamen represents the spirit, genius and creativity of a 'technological humanist'" explained WPI President Edward A. Parrish. "Dean embodies what we WPI do as an institution of higher education - to give our students the excitement of learning, the technological and theoretical expertise to innovate, and the social and human implications of applying their knowledge to real-world situations."

About WPI

WPI is a pioneer in technological higher education, and is recognized as one of the leading outcomes-oriented undergraduate programs preparing people for success in our technological world. Since its founding in 1865, WPI has broadened and perfected an influential curriculum that balances theory and practice.

This innovative and unique combination of educational methods, learning environment and a worldwide network of project centers is located in Worcester, Massachusetts, WPI supports the academic and research pursuits of over 2,500 students and 200 faculty pursuing opportunities to blend technological research and practice with societal needs, delivering meaningful real-world benefits.

For over a century, WPI has awarded advanced degrees in the sciences and engineering disciplines, as well as the management of technology and business. Our alumni include Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry; Harold Black, inventor of the principle of negative-feedback; Carl Clark, inventor of the first practical airbag safety system; Dean Kamen, inventor of the first wearable drug infusion pump; and many others who contribute to the transformation of our technological world.