Saturday, February 3, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, February 3, 2001

Big Islander Bakken brings honor to Isles

If you follow the world of high tech, the Internet and cutting-edge inventions, you are most likely one of those speculating about something code-named "Ginger."

Ginger is an invention, or project, of National Medal of Technology winner Dean Kamen. Kamen is coming up with something that, according to rumor, could "change the world."

Kamen has discounted some of the wildest claims about his latest invention as so much hype. But clearly, he is up to something, and in the meantime has created a mini-industry of speculation and fantasy on the Internet and elsewhere.

But why wait for Kamen? Hawaii has in its midst someone who cut the path that Kamen follows more than 40 years ago. He is Earl Bakken, co-inventor of the pacemaker and founder of the respected medical technology firm Medtronics.

Today, Bakken is "retired" on the Big Island and is a leader in the effort to create a world-class alternative health and wellness center in Waimea.

Bakken is resolutely determined not to seek personal publicity. But he received some this week when it was announced that he has been named a co-winner of the prestigious $500,000 Russ Prize in engineering.

He says he will use the money to create a new scholarship fund for promising engineers from Hawaii.

Hawaii is honored to have Bakken. And it is a sure bet that among those bright young Island engineering students who will benefit from the scholarship fund will be another Dean Kamen or Earl Bakken, homegrown.

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