Don Maurer
Don Maurer

Don Maurer worked as a computer production engineer at Control Data, a very large computer corporation, as his first job as a new electrical engineer graduate from South Dakota State University. After 18 months, he left CDC to join Medtronic, which at that time had less than 100 employees. After three years he took a leave of absence and obtained a graduate degree in Biomedical engineering with a marketing minor, from Iowa State University. He returned to Medtronic, but after 11 years he found them too large so he left to start a rehabilitation-engineering department at Courage Center, a comprehensive transition center for disabled persons. Within 18 months, he decided to join a start up business he founded, becoming its full time president. He continued to lead EMPI for 19 years until he retired. He served as Chairman of Medical Alley, a Minnesota medical industry association. He was entrepreneur of the year in 1993 for Minnesota. Maurer served on the board of Angeion, Inc. and Advanced Respiratory, Inc, where he also consulted for research and development on new products.  He currently is a director and board secretary of VBOX, Inc, an R&D organization that has developed the world’s first wearable oxygen concentrator for medical use. Maurer is retired and pursues painting and teaches art at the art center on Sanibel Island. He holds more than 35 patents for medical devices and authored over a dozen scientific papers in the field.

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QHow did you get involved in medical device design?

A I was an R&D director at Medtronic for 11 years.

QDid you have a mentor?

A My mentor was Earl Bakken, founder and CEO of Medtronic. Earl is the focus and the inspiration of what's called Medical Alley, a non-profit, progressive healthcare association in Minnesota. The medical device industry was a result of Earl's genius. He literally started Medtronic in his garage and created the first transistor-operated, wearable pacemaker. I would guess dozens of companies have spun off as a result of Medtronic

QWhat was your typical day like?

A This was before the FDA's medical device act, so the industry was very loosely regulated. As special projects engineer I would go out and talk to physicians who had an idea they wanted to try. I would come back to the plant, design, build and test it, and bring it back to them. The physician would try it out and see if it worked.

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