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Inventor Dean Kamen Encourages the Class of 2012 to Fix the World

May 26, 2012

Members of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's Class of 2012 were encouraged to use their engineering, science and mathematics skills to fix challenging issues throughout the world.

Graduation Celemony
A Special Day: Civil engineering graduate Molly Rice receives her diploma from President Robert Coons during Rose-Hulman
Institute of Technology's 134th commencement in the Sports and Recreation Center on May 26.

"You are inheriting a world that needs very focused attention," stated one of the world's greatest inventors, Dean Kamen, in making this year's address to the 417 bachelor's and master's degree candidates participating in the institute's 134th commencement in the Sports and Recreation Center.

President Robert Coons told the graduates, "Each of you will make a difference; an impact on the world in which you will live."

And, Alumni Association President James Nordmeyer, a 1978 graduate, also encouraged the Class of 2012 to make a difference. "I encourage you to look broadly at the possibilities to solve problems, make plans, and improve processes and designs. In the future, you will be forming and forging everything from the world's largest man-made structures to our tiniest electronic devices. You will engineer every aspect of our lives."

       Kamen Speaker
  Words of Wisdom: Inventor Dean Kamen urged members of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's Class of 2012 to use their talents to solve many of the world's problems.  Kamen, who has over 400 patents, was this year's commencement speaker and received an honorary degree.

That has been the case with Kamen, whose inventions include the world's first wearable infusion pump and the Segway. He explained to the graduates, faculty and staff members, and family members that 2 billion of the approximate 7 billion people in the world get up every morning with a problem-finding drinkable water. He continued explaining that 2 million people will die trying to win clean water, and another 2 billion people have never used electricity.

Then, Kamen told the Class of 2012 of their good fortune. "You got the most valuable resource, an education," he said.  "Instead of seeing education as a privilege, carry it as a responsibility."

Continuing with his "contrarian" explanations, Kamen told the group that many smart people are saying these are tough times. With economic meltdowns and countries changing, he said, "Yes, by a lot of metrics the last few years have been tough times."

But, instead of following suggestions to be extra careful, Kamen told this year's Rose-Hulman graduates to do just the opposite: "Getting others to accept change is never easier than when they're not fat, dumb and happy." He added that people in desperate times, as many are now, are willing to accept change.

"You come up with new ideas to solve problems, you are walking into a world that is ripe for change," he told the Class of 2012. "Don't squander this opportunity."

Out With A Bang:  Confetti started the celebration as Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's Class of 2012 begins the next journey toward careers in engineering, science and mathematics.


Referring to a conversation with late Rose-Hulman President Matt Branam, Kamen was happy to open a pipeline between his company, DEKA, and Rose-Hulman because he is always looking for intelligent people.

Kamen also offered two points that, if done correctly, will lead the graduates to future success: No. 1, pick something important to do with all of their knowledge and education, and No. 2, don't give up. "You make a life by what you give to the world," he said. "Have a great life."

Rose-Hulman's Class of 2012 includes graduates that have earned patents for innovative techniques, helped establish a medical center in the Dominican Republic, assisted in the creation of life-saving medical devices, completed more than 40,000 hours of community service and raised more than $200,000 for community and national organizations.

These were all admirable to Kamen, who created FIRSTĀ® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization dedicated to introducing young minds to science and technology, takes engineering to a problem-solving format to help kids to recognize that science and technology are some of the most empowering tools.   

As an inventor, Kamen holds more than 440 U.S. and foreign patents, many for innovative medical devices that have expanded the knowledge of health care worldwide. While still a college undergraduate, he invented the first wearable infusion pump, used in medical specialties such as chemotherapy, neonatology and endocrinology. In 1976, he founded AutoSyringe, Inc. to manufacture and market the pumps. He later sold that company to Baxter Healthcare Corporation. By then, he had added a number of other infusion devices, including the first wearable insulin pump for diabetics.

Kamen founded DEKA Research & Development Corporation after the sale of AutoSyringe.