2005 Innovation Forum
Dick Gordon, ; Host, The Connection, WBUR-FM; Daniel DiLorenzo, '88, SM'88, SM '99, PhD '99, 1999 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Winner; ; Amy Smith, '84, SM '95, ENG '95, Senior Lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering; James McLurkin, '94, SM '04, PhD '08, 2003 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Winner; David Berry, '00, PhD '05, Principal, Flagship Ventures
Description: Although their interests and paths diverge sharply, these young inventors share a passion to improve lives. Daniel DiLorenzo was bent from the start on shepherding his biomedical creations successfully to market. "Even in early graduate school, I was making a spreadsheet with every venture capitalist I'd ever met, their background, email the list was enormous '.If you're a lab guy working with rats, no one will notice you unless you network and you'll have no impact on society." Amy Smith, a 2004 MacArthur Fellow, arrived at grad school barefoot after four years in the Peace Corps. Her experience in Botswana led her to believe that "simple things can make a big difference in people's lives." One example: An easily constructed device for chlorinating a village water supply. To Smith, success would mean "people all over the world copying an invention and not even knowing who I was."
James McLurkin says his "path started with designing better toys." He now hopes to make "profoundly stupid robots get smarter," so they can do real tasks in the world. He's happy to labor in academia, free from the burdens of patenting and commercial life. At his lab, people are encouraged "to think crazy thoughts and be bolder than the week before." The latest Lemelson Winner, David Berry, travels with a large portfolio of ideas, undaunted by experiments that fail. He currently has seven patents in various stages of process. One recent project involved addressing the fossil fuel crisis by engineering bacteria to produce hydrogen. He's focused now on finding ways to solve diseases by regulating cell processes. For Berry, the itch to invent "all goes back to Lego '.People fall into inventing. Some people who liked to play with Legos might like to end up playing with robots or proteins."
Host(s): School of Engineering, Lemelson-MIT Program
Tape #: 19695
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