Forget digital cameras and roundtrip tickets. Amazon.com has
revealed its philanthropic side by arranging for the auction of three of Dean
Kamen’s inventions, the Segwayä Human Transporters (HT), to benefit the
non-profit organization FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and
Technology). The organization, founded by Kamen in 1989, aims to promote and
inspire an appreciation for science and technology in young people.
From February 19 through March 28, the auction attracted more than 500 bids
on the three self-balancing, electric, personal transportation devices. The
three winning bids totaled $364,800. "All of the money, 100%, goes to FIRST,"
says Kamen. The organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition for
high-school students and the FIRST LEGO League for children 9 to 14 years old.
It has been linked to and supported by such worldwide companies as Bausch &
Lomb, Xerox Corp., Motorola, and Chrysler Corp.
Later this month, at the FIRST National Championship in Disney World’s Epcot
Center (Orlando, FL), Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos will present the
three winners with their transporters. Kamen spoke with the winners about what
they intended to do with each of their Segway HTs and, according to him, their
main goal was to promote FIRST when they bid. "I think the auction got people
interested in FIRST. I hope the engineering community continues to watch and
support the organization."