Most of my professional time is absorbed by inventing medical devices and by running Symbiosis Foundation's Energetic Ray Global Observatory, a worldwide collaboration of students who are building the world's largest telescope. ERGO is a networked system of school-based cosmic-ray detectors, inspired by Jill Tarter's TED Wish in 2009 to engage earthlings everywhere in the search for other life in the universe. We have nearly fifty instruments placed around the world.
Besides a four-decade career in medical instrumentation, I've worked in the field of hybrid rocket propulsion, including development, testing, and launch operations for scientific sounding rockets and military tactical rockets. That company, Environmental Aeroscience, Inc., performed research and development activities for NASA, DARPA, and the US Air Force Propulsion Laboratory and participated in an industry consortium for the demonstration and development of hybrid-propulsion launch boosters. The stories about rockets are much more entertaining than the ones about medical devices.
With the help of many friends, I have ninety-odd issued United States patents and many international patents in the field of medical devices, wire-making, and rocket technology.
My wife is Connie Ryan, also a TED member, and we have three boys--Will (19), Maxwell (17), and Gregory (13). We are active as Boy Scout leaders, serving as m Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 336, Coral Gables, Florida. I'm proud to be a trustee for St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School, and I've been a robotics coach there for twelve years. A lot of fun, and many rewards, come from mentoring and coaching robotics teams in national BotsIQ and VEX robotics.
I try to play guitar, banjo, and ukulele--all poorly--but my favorite is ukulele.
I've helped found several corporations, including:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Theratek International, Inc., a joint venture of Cordis Corporation and Kensey-Nash Corporation to develop a rotary atherectomy system.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Cross Products Engineering, Inc., an independent consultancy in the area of manufacturing and medical device technology.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Symbiosis Corporation, the worldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leading manufacturer of flexible biopsy forceps and laparoscopic surgical instruments (sold to American Home Products in 1992 and subsequently acquired by the Boston Scientific Corporation).
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Environmental Aeroscience Corporation, developers and manufacturers of hybrid rocket motors for consumer, scientific, and military applications (holds the world record for hybrid-rocket launch altitude), built propulsion systems for the first private object launched into space (the GoFast Rocket) and for SpaceShipOne, the first private manned spacecraft.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ General Science and Technology Corporation, developed intellectual property in the field of wire making for mechanical, electrical, aerospace, and medical applications. .
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ InScope LLC, developers of tools for less-invasive surgery and flexible endoscopy, including devices for hemostasis, cancer diagnosis, and treatment of gastro-esophageal reflux disease.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ PST--Partners in Stent Technology, developers of self-expanding stents for treating vascular disease.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Syntheon LLC, currently developing advanced electromechanical technology for surgical instrumentation.
Inspiring our messengers to the future--children--and helping them to be prepared when they get there.
There's a popular misconception about grabbing the brass ring when you're going around a merry-go-round. Most people think there's a brass ring there, but it's hard to grab--and the trick is to reach out for it at just the right moment. It's just like "being at the right place at the right time" to capture some personal or business opportunity. The way merry-go-rounds (and real life) really work, though, is different. There are lots of rings to be grabbed, and it's easy to grab them. The trouble is, almost all of the rings are dull, black iron--not shiny, golden ones. You have to grab at every one you can, and every now and then, when you're lucky, one of the brass ones turns up. The only way to get the brass ring is to grab at ALL the rings, because one of them every now and then turns out to be golden.
Ways to teach children to change the world. How to see what nobody else is looking for. Inspiration. Spaceflight. Robots. Watchmaking. Cosmic ray astronomy. Precision timekeeping.
I organized a bunch of friends and high-school students to get up at 3am to watch the simulcast of TEDGlobal from UK the last three summers. Most adult friends flaked, but the kids stayed with it--I'm glad the future is in their hands! The kids all did TEDAssociate simulcasts at their high school for TED2010 and TED2011.
At TED2009, I heard Jill Tarter make her wish to engage earthlings everywhere in the search for extraterrestrial life. At the time I was working on a personal project, tinkering with cosmic-ray detectors and precision clocks. Why not create a way for kids to collaborate in a world-wide study of cosmic rays (and, maybe, search for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence!)? The ERGO Energetic Ray Global Observatory is the result, and the first units are now operational in schools and museums. We on our way a hundred by the end of 2011, with a goal of 1,000 within a couple of years. Check out: www.ergotelescope.org and www.symbiosis-foundation.org.
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