Dean Kamer is a man with a plan. The denim clad, easy going, quick smiling and energetic billionaire wants to energize a whole young generation into becoming more creative. “Bigger problems roll at humanity faster, in bigger numbers. If we lack creativity to deal with it, we’re doomed”.
Kamer certainly does not lack creativity. He invented the Segway, the iBotchair –an all-terrain wheelchair-, a portable dialyses machine, an insulin pump and countless other devices. In 1989, Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a program for students to get youngsters interested in science, technology, and engineering. All over the planet, teams of committed kids compete through FIRST in a robotic competition. Kids build robots, program them, and compete in complex challenges that would make countless seasoned engineers bleak. “These kids will be more creative, more resourceful, more inquisitive: that is what we need”, says Kamen. With the help of mental sponsors as the Clintons, Obama and Will.i.am from the Black-Eyed-Peas, he was able to involve over a staggering million kids in FIRST.
“We are so good in finding a oneliner, and somebody to blame” smiles Kamen: “but in the meantime, society and the planet are at risk.” The fact that in 2014 water is still a luxury billions cannot afford, let alone electricity clearly troubles the inventor. He built a sterling engine that produces water and electricity, and used the power of connected networks to get the lifesaving equipment into the most impoverished corners of the planet.
Dean Kamen found in Coca-Cola and it’s CEO Muhtar Kent a partner to bring the Ekocenter Slingshot (bioenergy cell plus water purification) to health centers and schools in remote communities in rural parts of Latin America and Africa, which makes me only more proud to have Coca-Cola as a trusted UM client. It also shows how the financial and logistic muscle of the world’s biggest companies can add to the complex mechanism of helping in challenging areas. Kamen is a firm believer in the symbiosis between companies; NGO’s and governmental institutions in tackling the biggest problems.
“If you have the contacts, if you have the network, you can find the human and financial resources; you can fix the technology, solve any problem and make anything happen… ‘not possible’ is a defective state of mind”. If only more people would think without boundaries, like Kamen, the world would be a better place…