"Let's run it through from the top. This is going downhill."
Dean Kamen is standing on a six-inch riser in an almost empty room in the basement of Westwind, his 32,000-square-foot house in Bedford, New Hampshire, trying to get this thing right. It's crunch time for FIRST, the high-school robotics competition Kamen founded two decades ago in an effort to get kids jazzed about engineering, to make science as sexy as sports. (FIRST = For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.)
In less than a month, 42,000 students on 1,700 teams will gather at 43 regional championships to showcase the ball-throwing 'bots that each team has spent six weeks assembling in novel ways from nearly identical boxes of parts. At stake -- besides glory -- is $9 million in scholarships.
Kamen would dearly love to speak at every one of those 43 regional games, because he can't afford to squander any opportunity to reach any one of those 42,000 fertile minds. But even Dean Kamen can't be multiple places at once, so he's decided to clone himself through the magic of video. And that's why Kamen and his FIRST Robotics Competition co-founder, Woodie Flowers, are standing here peering into a teleprompter, trying, take after painful take, to perfect their message.
"You can bail out a bank, but you can't bail out a generation," Kamen recites for the tenth time in the past hour, and then his reedy voice trails off. "You can't bail out a generation . . . you can't bail out a generation," he mutters to himself, the wheels turning. This is supposed to be a pep talk — the barn burner the coach delivers to hype up the players before they storm the field, Kamen and Flowers taking turns exhorting these junior roboticists to new heights. But somehow the message keeps twisting away from simple inspiration toward something a bit more complicated.
"You can bail out the banks by printing money, but you can't bail out a generation of dumb people by printing diplomas. ...Although I personally think printing more money is about as dumb as printing diplomas." As Kamen (who, for what it's worth, never earned a college diploma) wanders further and further off-script, Flowers tries to reel him back: "After I say, 'The world needs more and more people like you, dedicated to solving problems, problems that really matter,' then, Dean, you need to go right into 'But we have to get started,' " says Flowers, fully aware that trying to direct Kamen is futile. "We've been at it for 18 years," corrects Kamen. "We can't say 'get started.' "
Finally, hundreds of edits later, Kamen seems to feel that he's gotten it right. "There is a lot at stake in the world today," he intones. "We need you to be able to tackle energy challenges, advance our abilities in medicine, and develop entire new industries. Innovation is absolutely an essential part of the solution. Even before the current financial crisis, we were in a deep competitive hole. Too many people were making money from money, or money from flipping houses and hamburgers. Too few were using hard-earned science and engineering skills to devise real solutions. We need more of you to make your investment in learning and thinking — to be innovators. But we have to hurry. World leaders may be able to bail out the banks by printing money, but you can't bail out a generation by printing diplomas. It takes hard work, but it's worth it."
what is with the picture. i sorry popsci but i think this picture is so racist. the reason i think it all the picture is weird not only that when you see the magazines version of the picture. there is a person that has all the figurer of what a Asian boy would look like. not only that the picture could had been better if they would use real people instead of a artist drawing it. it would show what FIRST really mean to people.
The picture... is racist.
Yeah, seeing as racism is an ideal and a picture is an inanimate object, I don't think that's even possible. Maybe I just can't wade through your grammar to understand what you mean by saying the picture is "racist." Could you clarify?
On topic, guys.
I admire him for trying to do this. I only hope that everyone else will actually listen to him...
He has taken chances and delved into many areas of innovation. Where others see risk, he sees opportunity. Dean has been doing his thing for many years and my guess is he will continue for many more. I look forward to his next big "secret" project.
Well, the guy is a fair inventor and self promoter -- in the tradition of Edison.
But, if he wants to encourage innovation, he should share his methods of selling inventions. There are lots of innovators around -- few know how to make a buck from it.
Kudos to him for promoting the robot contest.
I do wonder why everybody cites the Segway as possibly his greatest invention. As far as I can tell, it's a fairly limited concept. Granted, it's innovative, but it solves problems that few people have. Sone of his other stuff is far more impressive.
It is true what you say about the segway, that it has met with limited acceptance but perhaps only a niche market is all that is needed until another inventor takes the ball and runs.
Mr. Kaman's invention selling methods aren't the real keys to his success. If you re-read the article, you will find what he does is not aimed at selling. His aim is to better mankind through his inventions. When the inventions succeed in this regard (the only measure of an invention's success to Mr. Kaman), he is handsomely rewarded. So, don't focus on how much you can make with an invention; Focus on how much better it can make people's lives, and they will beat a path to your door.
As for the comments regarding racism, I could go on for days about this. The main message is this: What you resist persists. If you are looking for evidence of racism, you will see it everywhere. And for God's sake, learn the language! Like it or not, people will judge you based on what you say or write, and may dismiss you without even thinking about your message. Even if the message in the first post was well-thought out (I can't see much evidence that it was), the point would be hopelessly lost due to the inability to communicate it well....or at all. I have tried several times to struggle through the poor grammar and punctuation, and I still don't see any substantiation of the point. Actually, I'm not sure I see the point either.
I agree with the third post. This is not the forum for comments about racism and the like. Take that fight "outside," if you really still believe you can fix anything by fighting. I think of my comments as correcting the record, and in case you think I'm doing exactly what I say shouldn't be done, I will not post on anything like this again.
Now go invent something that helps people, or support those who do!
"Give me ambiguity, or give me something else."
"Mr. Kaman's invention selling methods aren't the real keys to his success. If you re-read the article, you will find what he does is not aimed at selling. His aim is to better mankind through his inventions."
I got a good chuckle at this. The fact that you believe the above statement only proves just how good at marketing himself Mr. Kamen really is.
Regarding the racism thing; your second paragraph was exactly my point, though in more words.
Even if one or more of his inventions never becomes commercially viable, we cannot predict the spin-off affect it may have on the subsequent development by others who take the idea and run with it.
Kamen's most important invention was the one that spurred development of the Segway; the iBot, wheelchair replacement. Contenders include the insulin pump for pregnant women and the Slingshot water purification device. And let's not forget the stent.
I was a mentor for a First team for 3 years. To me the biggest difference between First and any other competition is that the all of the competitors work together. I helped a rookie rival team, from a rural school from North Dakota set-up next to us in a regional competition, write the software they needed so they could compete. The team had no access to anyone with programming skills and was hoping someone could help them. The kids from MY team heard their about their dilemma and asked if I could help.
The regional competition has announcers in the pit who make general requests if say one team's robot is broken and they need parts. Four teams will show up 5 minutes later parts in hand, because no one wants to see another team sitting out from a match. It is so hard to explain how different it is compared to any "competition" in our culture.
Honestly the most prestigious award, The Chairman's Award" has nothing to do with how well your robot performs, and all to do with the difference your team has mad in the community.
It really is a great thing to be a part of if you can.
I was staring at the Distiller and thinking there has to be a better way. The world's poor can't afford a machine that's going to cost thousands if not 10's of thousands, even if it's purchased at a village level. Like the solar cookers, they need something fashioned out of a foil-lined cardboard box or the like. Preferably with a minimal CO2 footprint and not requiring any oil-based components.
You're so right, Dean. The world's a mess and we are messing around with distractions. I could cheerfully throttle the next person who boasts yet another electric car that can do 0-100 in 12 secs. We need bikes made entirely of bamboo.
"Dean Kamen Won't Be Satisfied Until He Reinvents Us All" I thought this might be an interesting article and started it with the thought that it would be something about saving the world from it's current predicaments. Then I find out that what the title should have been is "Dean Kamen wants to change everyone else" as he enjoys his 32,000 sq. ft. home (32,000!), his Tesla, Porsche, and Hummer, his 2, 2 mind you, helicopters, and his own private island!! I can't believe that he takes his helicopter to work and not a Segway! I could not bring myself to finish the article because I am not interested in the least to hear from an egotistical hypocritical bigot. I've often wondered myself why the Segway hasn't become more popular, could it be that the cost is paying for the basic "needs" in life for Mr. Kamen...
I have a response for you, Bruce Borrowman.
You should have kept reading.
I have been a member of a FIRST Robotics team for 3 years now, being a full-time member of not one but two FIRST teams in the 2008-2009 season, one of which (a rookie team) ranked 20th at the Nationals in Atlanta. (By the way, it was a lot of fun, you should try to go to a regional next March, if you have the time!)
But to the point: Mr. Kamen is not as egotistical as some of the other comments seem to indicate. He has these things because he is in such high esteem and high demand by his professional acquaintances, he requires personal, private long- and short-distance transportation. And besides, if you had earned as high a living standard as he has, wouldn't you acquaint yourself with a Porsche?
Also, his business and his home are miles away. Could you ride a Segway for miles? I didn't think so. The batteries would die, or the device would end up broken. Plus, I don't know if you've ever seen one, but they're not especially fast. I think that a more correct analysis of Dean is as a idealistic realist. He sets off on journeys to improve humanity, and actually accomplishes them.
And besides, when I spoke with him, he didn't seem too thrilled to be a veritable rock star of engineering. It's almost as though he's doing all of this out of a sense of duty to the world, as though he's the one who has the ability and drive to change the world, and so he's the one who has to do it, whether or not he gets tired, or upset, or frustrated about it.
Please, before you sound off about an article in the future, make sure you actually read the whole thing. Thank you.
Stand in front with style.Honestly i didn't who is Kamen before this.
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He is a very great man, I wish that I can do like him.
Bah! Anyone who dresses in denim is a ijit. Worst clothing fabric on the face of the Earth, with the possible exception of burlap.
Focusfusion.org will do more to change the world than Dean Kamen.
P.S. Anyone who accuses others of racism to discredit their ideas is also a ijit.
I like Kamen's personal vehicle. Small and simple. Does anybody know how much is it?