Featured Innovator: Dean Kamen


“Lots of people talk and dream about changing the world. But inventor Dean Kamen is actually doing it.” — CBS News

At WVCO, we like to think of ourselves as a team of innovators with divisions like PRE-TEC, Willamette Valley Company Railroad Division, POLYQuik Performance Products, WVCO Wood Products, and much more.

We believe that innovation not only fuels our company, it is what fuels our society and makes this nation great in good times and in bad. WVCO’s focus has always been on creating breakthroughs in products and service to transform the way industries work, so we want to celebrate the spirit of innovation by featuring some of our country’s top ground-breakers and inventors who use their talents for good.

This month, our featured innovator is inventor and entrepreneur, Dean Kamen. For decades, Mr. Kamen has been a tireless advocate for science and technology and currently holds more than 440 U.S. and foreign patents, many of them for innovative medical devices that have expanded the frontiers of health care worldwide.

In 1982, Dean Kamen co-founded DEKA Research and Development and has developed inventions such as a portable dialysis machine, a vascular stent, and the iBOT — a motorized wheelchair that climbs stairs. Recent projects include portable energy and water purification to help improve living standards in developing countries, and a prosthetic arm for maimed soldiers. He is perhaps best known for inventing the Segway PT, an electric transporter with a computer-controlled stabilization and control system.

Though his inventions have positively impacted countless lives, his greatest achievement just may be the work that he is doing with For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), an international youth organization co-founded by Kamen to inspire a future generation of brilliant innovators. Kamen says the mission of his organization is “To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”

The organization operates the FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST LEGO League, Junior FIRST LEGO League, and FIRST Tech Challenge competitions. CBS Sunday Morning recently profiled Dean Kamen in this piece.

To learn more about Dean Kamen and his contributions, please visit www.dekaresearch.com/founder.shtml and www.usfirst.org.

Dean Kamen photo credit: danielernst via photopin cc

How One Man Changed the Shoe and Craft Industry….The Story of Shoe GOO Adhesive

Anyone who has used AMAZING GOOP® Adhesives to create works of art or salvaged their favorite shoes with Shoe GOO can thank Lyman Van Vliet for his groundbreaking invention.

Some of the most innovative solutions of the modern age were developed for a very simple reason. In fact, the origins of Eclectic Products, Inc., one of the biggest manufacturers of adhesive products on the market today, began simply with “tennis toe”.

In the early 1970s, Lyman Van Vliet, a senior executive who frequently enjoyed a game of tennis, was getting frustrated because the soles of his shoes were frequently falling apart while playing his favorite game. The need for more durable shoes inspired him to seek out a method to effective repair them.

After numerous attempts, Van Vliet finally concocted a substance which could be used to create a pliable surface coating for shoe soles. The product, which we now know as “Shoe GOO Adhesive”, was groundbreaking because it had solvents to keep it like a thick gel hardened to a strong yet flexible rubber once it was applied.

The demand for his product led him to launch Eclectic Products in 1972 and market his new creation to tennis players.  It did not take long for the orders to pour in.  Shoe GOO quickly gained popularity among runners during the 1970s and 80s.   In 1988 Willamette Valley Company acquired Eclectic Products in 1988 and their operations are now located in Eugene, Oregon.

Today, Shoe GOO Adhesive is still used to repair tennis shoes and so much more!  Read 101 Uses For Shoe GOO.… to get an idea on how versatile this product is. Click here to read more about Lyman Van Vliet’s story:

photo credit: Earthworm via photopin cc