Dean Kamen

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Dean Kamen on one of his inventions, the Segway PT.
Dean Kamen on one of his inventions, the Segway PT.
President Bill Clinton and Kamen in the White House, Kamen riding the iBOT Mobility System.
President Bill Clinton and Kamen in the White House, Kamen riding the iBOT Mobility System.

Dean L. Kamen (born April 5, 1951) is an American entrepreneur and inventor. Born in Rockville Centre, New York, he attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute, but dropped out before graduating. His father is Jack Kamen, an illustrator of Weird Science and other EC Comics.


Released a new invention called the Slingshot (water vapor distillation system) in 2008.

Kamen is probably best-known to the public for the product that eventually became known as the Segway HT, an electric, self-balancing human transporter with a complex, computer-controlled gyroscopic stabilization and control system. The device balances on two parallel wheels and is controlled by moving body weight. The machine's development was the object of much speculation and hype after segments of a book quoting Steve Jobs and other notable IT visionaries espousing its society-revolutionizing potential were leaked in January 2001.

Kamen stirling generator 10 coupled to water still 12 (from US patent 7,340,879)
Kamen stirling generator 10 coupled to water still 12 (from US patent 7,340,879)

Kamen has worked extensively on a project involving Stirling engine designs, attempting to create a machine that would generate power while serving as a water purification system. He hopes the project will help improve living standards in developing countries. [1] Kamen has a patent issued on his water purifier, U.S. Patent 7,340,879 , and other patents pending.

Kamen has also invented a compressed-air-powered device which would launch a human into the air in order to quickly launch SWAT teams or other emergency workers to the roofs of tall, inaccessible buildings.[2]

However, Kamen was already a successful and wealthy inventor, after inventing the AutoSyringe, a new type of mobile dialysis system for medical applications, the first insulin pump, and an all-terrain electric wheelchair known as the iBOT using many of the same gyroscopic balancing technologies that later made their way into the Segway.


In 1989, Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), for high school students. In 2005, it held over 30 regional competitions and one international competition. In 2007, 37 competitions were held in places across the world such as Israel, Brazil, Canada, and the U.S.A.. Kamen remains the driving force behind the organization, providing over 1,000 high schools with the tools needed to learn valuable engineering skills. FIRST has gained a great deal of publicity from companies such as Autodesk, Bausch and Lomb, CNN, General Motors, Google, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Boston Gears, Motorola, Delphi, Kodak, Johnson and Johnson, Xerox, Harris, Underwriter's Laboratories, Microchip, Caterpillar as well as many Universities and colleges.

FIRST has many competitions, including the JFLL (Junior FIRST Lego League) and the FLL (FIRST Lego League) for younger students, and the FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) and the FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) for high school aged students.


During his career Kamen has won numerous awards. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1997 for his biomedical devices and for making engineering more popular among high school students. Dean Kamen was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 2000 by then President Clinton for inventions that have advanced medical care worldwide. In April 2002, Kamen was awarded the Lemelson-MIT Prize for inventors for his invention of the Segway and of an infusion pump for diabetics. In 2003 his "Project Slingshot," a cheap portable water purification system, was named a runner-up for "coolest invention of 2003" by Time magazine.[3]. In 2005 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his invention of the AutoSyringe. In 2006 Kamen was awarded the Global Humanitarian Action Award by the United Nations. Kamen received an honorary "Doctor of Engineering " degree from Kettering University in 2001, as well as from the Wentworth Institute of Technology when he spoke at the college's centennial celebration in 2004, and another honorary doctorate from Bates College in 2007.[1]

Personal life

Kamen is currently single, claiming he's "married to his inventions." His primary residence is a hexagonal shed style mansion he has dubbed Westwind[1], located in Bedford, New Hampshire, just outside of the larger city of Manchester. The house has at least four different levels and is very eclectically conceived, with such things as hallways resembling mine shafts, 1960s novelty furniture, spiral staircases and secret passages, an observation tower, a fully-equipped machine shop, and a huge cast-iron steam engine which once belonged to Henry Ford built into the center atrium of the house (which is actually small in comparison), which Kamen has had converted into a Stirling engine-powered kinetic sculpture.

Also on the property there is a softball field regularly used by the local police force. Kamen owns two helicopters, which he regularly uses to commute to work, and has a hangar built into the house as well.

During 2007 at the FIRST Robotics competition held in Atlanta, Georgia, YouTube (which sponsors FIRST) co-founder Chad Hurley announced a competition for the teams to create a video in which they would describe what it takes to start a FIRST robotics team in an imaginative way. The prize for the winning team is a visit and guided tour of Dean Kamen's house and property. The competition is currently on-going and still taking submissions.

His company, DEKA, annually creates intricate mechanical presents for Dean Kamen. Recently, the company created a robotic chess player, which is a mechanical arm attached to a chess board, as well as a vintage looking computer with antique wood, and a converted typewriter as a keyboard.

Dean Kamen owns and pilots a Beechcraft Premier I jet. It is single pilot rated, and he is known to fly from the east to the west coast in the morning for meetings, and then fly himself home.

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Subpages (1): Dean Kaman Videos