"The best way I know to demonstrate how effective a team can be and demonstrate it really quickly compared to business situations when projects sometimes take years or decades, is to watch what happens when the first competition gets going. This year we have over 2,000 different high school teams around the world that get six weeks to take a problem statement -- and in this place build a robot that plays soccer -- and take that problem and deliver." -- Dean Kamen
Can a team lead themselves?
Dean Kamen is the Founder of FIRST and President of DEKA Research & Development Corporation based in Manchester, NH. DEKA is a dynamic company focused on the development of revolutionary new technologies that span a diverse set of applications. As an inventor, physicist, and entrepreneur, Dean has dedicated his life to developing technologies that help people lead better lives. Some notable breakthrough medical devices include the HomeChoice® portable dialysis machine, marketed by Baxter Healthcare, and the Independence® IBOT® 4000 Mobility System, a sophisticated mobility aid, developed for Johnson & Johnson. Dean is also widely recognized as the inventor of the Segway® Human Transporter, which was designed to provide a clean alternative for short distance travel and enhance people's productivity. One of Dean's newest projects is a water purification system that is being designed to help provide clean drinking water to the estimated 1.1 billion of people in the world who lack access to clean water.
Among Dean's proudest accomplishments is founding FIRST. In 2009, its flagship program, the FIRST Robotics Competition, will reach more than 42,000 high-school students on close to 1,700 teams in 40 regional competitions, seven district competitions, and one state Championship. The FIRST Robotics Competition teams professionals and young people to solve an engineering design problem in an intense and competitive way. In 1998, the FIRST LEGO League was created for children ages 9-14. Similar to the FIRST Robotics Competition, these young participants build a robot and compete in a friendly event designed for their age group. In the 2008/09 season, over 137,000 children are participating in 42 countries. FIRST also offers the Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6 to 9 year-olds and the FIRST Tech Challenge, which provides high-school-aged students with the traditional challenge of the FIRST Robotics Competition, but with a more accessible and affordable robotics kit.
Mr. Kamen received the Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment (1998), the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton (2000), the Lemelson-MIT Prize (2002), and numerous honorary degrees. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2005.