Perhaps Dean Kamen is not a household name. Dean Kamen invented the Segway — the two-wheeled, self-balancing upright shaft with handle bars that you see policemen or tourists riding in S.F. or other metropolitan areas.
More critical to good health, Dean Kamen’s company DEKA has developed the technology used in portable dialysis machines and insulin pumps — devices that save the lives of our neighbors here in Madera and elsewhere.
DEKA has dedicated 15 years to developing a way to help the over 900 million people worldwide who do not have clean drinking water and to save some of the 3.5 million people who die annually because of diseases resulting from the consumption of unsanitary water.
They’ve developed the Slingshot, a low-cost and highly efficient water purification system.
Dean Kamen is also the cofounder of FIRST Robotics. We had an opportunity to see FIRST Robotics in action last April 4 through 6, when 44 robotics teams from California, one from Honolulu, and one from Metepec, Mexico, convened for the first Central Valley Regional Robotics Competition at Madera South High School.
Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 at 7:30 a.m. sweatshirt clad students from Team 1323 (MadTown Robotics) and their counterparts from Fresno and elsewhere gathered at MHS for this season’s robotics kickoff event. Similar groups gathered across the country to watch a special broadcast via NASA. Check it out at — http://www.lmrobotics.com/blog/2013/01/05/frc-game-unveiled-ultimate-assent/. Here are some highlights (in my own words) of what Dean Kamen had to say:
- Our youth will become the next generation of innovators and discoverers of cures, but they need activities like FIRST Robotics to keep from being distracted by less promising attractions.
- FIRST Robotics employs a venue usually co-opted by sports, in order to stimulate and excite a spirit of personal excellence and dedication.
- We are at our best when there is a careful balance between competition and cooperation.
The main purpose of the broadcast was to unveil the specifics of this year’s competition. The new game will see our robots cast Frisbees through slots and climb oil-derrick-like structures. Our youthful engineers have six weeks to design, assemble, test and refine their robots. Alan Hollman, vice principal at Madera High and the driving force behind Madera Robotics, will provide leadership for Team 1323, as well as for the Regional Planning Committee, which he chairs.
Last year’s event was supported with substantial financial contributions from JBT FoodTech Madera, JC Penneys, Platt Electric and the Lyles College of Engineering at CSUF.
The Greater Madera Area Kiwanians, the Noon Rotarians and the Breakfast Lions prepared lunches as well as lending their person power to help make the event run smoothly. Members of the Madera Kiwanis, Soroptimists, Sunrise Rotary, and the Madera CalRTA generously gave of their time. MUSD teachers and MCOE administrators and staff chipped in volunteer hours. Superintendent Cecilia Massetti helped at the Registration Desk.
Madera County Supervisor David Rogers, Madera City Mayor Brett Frazier, and Council Member, Gary Svanda visited us and lent their support.
The inaugural Central Valley Regional FIRST Robotics Competition was a fantastic event and celebration of what is best in our youth and promise of our future. Make time to attend the event this year – March 2 and 3. Better yet, consider helping out.
J. Galen Wright,