The magazine Popular Mechanics has presented its Popular Mechanics 2009 Leadership Award to Dean Kamen, founder of DEKA Research, Manchester, New Hampshire. The magazine stated that Kamen won the award because his “big idea” was to “transform medical technology while amassing more than 440 patents-and then remake American culture, one future engineer at a time,” referring to the Kamen’s For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) robotics competition for students.
In an extended interview with the magazine, Kamen pondered, “What’s the most practical way to ensure you’ll have great inventions? What would you want to invent? Inventors. At a FIRST event…you’re looking up at thousands of opportunities to do something unbelievable. You think, one of these kids is going to make some engine that doesn’t pollute, one of these kids is going to cure some kind of cancer.”
In the interview, Kamen also described his life as an inventor, beginning with starting his first electronics company while still in high school, and discussing how he started to develop pediatric drug-delivery equipment just a few years later. His inventions include the first wearable insulin-infusion pump, a portable home-use dialysis machine, the iBOT wheelchair, and the DEKA prosthetic arm designed as part of the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA)-sponsored Revolutionizing Prosthetics 2009 (RP 2009) project.