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When Miami native Ivan Yaeger was a youngster, he designed an
artificial limb for a school science project. That was just the beginning of
what would become a longterm commitment to innovation and to helping people
with disabilities to lead happier, more productive lives.
Yaeger is a thirtysomething entrepreneur and inventor who has won numerous
awards for science, engineering, leadership, entrepreneurship and public speaking.
He graduated in 1988 from the University of Miami
with a degree in business management and organization, and soon after he established
Yaeger Innovative Products Corporation and invented its initial line of products.
He holds a number of patents on products including the DeskMaster school desk
bookstand, the Cassette Lok videocassette childproofing lock, and the Yaeger
Prosthetic Arm his most impressive creation to date.
Yaeger designed a pair of artificial arms using offtheshelf parts
for a little girl in Florida named Diamond Excell who was born without arms.
Yaeger was responsible for the technology and the physical construction of the
arms. He worked with Eugenio R. Silva, a prosthetist at Advanced Motion Control
in Miami, to build, test and fit them. Yaeger took some of the design elements
directly from his first design, which he patented while still in college.
Yaeger aimed to build limbs that would give Diamond the basic functions of
an elbow, wrist and hand so that she could manipulate and carry objects and
eat by herself. He modeled Diamond's hands after those of one of her cousins
and covered them with molded latex textured to simulate a real hand, with fingernails
and tone that match Diamond's skin color. The arm was then covered with stockingnet
material which has padding underneath to protect the electronics and cables
Diamond can open the arms' joints by twitching her back muscles; she closes
them by flexing her chest muscles. Two sensors mounted on the harness that holds
the arms to her torso allow her to switch between each joint. The wrist can
turn nearly all the way around and the elbows are designed so that they swing
freely when Diamond walks. While the electronics in the arms may not need to
be replaced for four to five years, the arms will need to be lengthened periodically
as she grows. While it will take a great deal of practice before she masters
them, her arms are already enabling Diamond to hug her family and friends and
do many other things she could never do on her own before.
Next, Yaeger plans to approach manufacturers in the artificial limb industry
to develop the arms' design so that others like Diamond may also benefit from
this magnificent invention. Yaeger currently serves as CEO of The Yaeger Companies,
a group of corporations that include Y.I.P. Corporation, The Yaeger Foundation,
Inc. and The Yaeger Clinic, Inc. These companies specialize in product development,
consulting, educational programming and health care.
In addition to his business activities, Mr. Yaeger has served as motivational
speaker, a University of Miami adjunct professor, and as a human resources consultant
to several large corporations. As executive director of The Yaeger Foundation,
Inc., he created The Technology Leaders Initiative for students and educators,
which is designed to stimulate interest in inventing, technology and entrepreneurship.
Yaeger is also a member of the King of Clubs and Vocational Service chair of
the Rotary Club of North Dade, Florida. He also sits on the boards of organizations
such as College Assistance Program, Academy of Finance, and Magnet Educational