Ken Pickar
Visiting Professor of Mechanical Engineering

California Institute of Technology
101 Thomas, Mail Code 104-44
Pasadena, CA 91125
(626) 395-4185


E/ME 105

E 102

E/ME 103

Useful Links





WINTER 2015 E/ME/Med E105
We have concluded in the winter quarter E/ME/Med E 105 "Design for Independence from Disability" a class which morphed from Design for the Developing World, taught in previous years.  The students designed 7 products to aid people who are elderly or handicapped. All of the projects were generated by Rehabilitation Specialists and the patients themselves.

The class was taught in partnership with Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center (RLANRC) in Downey, California and  co-taught with Philip Requejo, PhD (Rehabilitation Engineering) and Andrew Lin, MS Center for Applied Rehabilitation Technology (CART).  Nathan Allen from Art Center lectured and Art Center students participated as well on Teams.

Our guest speakers also included people who had to our eyes very difficult challenges. But their human spirit when connected  through existing appliances inspired us all.   

The Caltech Poster session Final was reported on by the Pasadena News which describes the projects in the students words.

These projects included:

Wheelchair for patients with hemiplegia
Pressure ulcer prevention system
Low cost tablet computer mount
Weatherproof wheelchair canopy
3d Printed prosthetic tools
Open source eyetracking software
Ergonomic crutch foot

There was a second Final where the students presented their results at Rancho to their collaborators and future users. It was a very exciting event!

SPRING 2015 E103 Management of Technology
This is a course I have taught for many years but not in the last academic year. I missed it! The idea here is for a student to choose a technology and tell me what is going to happen in the next 5 years. I usually threaten in the beginning to withhold the final mark for 5 years but no one believes me. The class is heavy on research and interpretation including interviewing putative experts, searching for the applications that drive adoption, researching technology limits, Looking for analogies, reading the literature and making some educated guesses. After long experience with the class I can see that the student teams' (another team-based course) track record is pretty good. Technologies that students said would not happen (space power) haven't and technologies that students said would (autonomous transport) are happening.

Two publications about E/ME 105 have appeared. In the (Spring) Issue of EandS, see "Bridging the Gap" by Katie Neith the Caltech Magazine." Also read Chuck Stern's article "From Pasadena to Kerala: Inside Caltech's Product Design For The Developing World Course" in The Dish Dai

Ken Pickar
Visiting Professor of Mechanical Engineering, 1998-present,
J. Stanley Johnson Visiting Professor of Mechanical Engineering, 1999-2003

Caltech Associates talk on "Product Design for the Developing World" class. More on Making Wheelchairs for the Developing World.

Interview on the Frank Peter's show

Teaching Areas of Interest
My classes are taught at the junction of science, engineering and business by applying my background in mechanical and electrical engineering technology management and in physics. I am particularly interested in the start-up and continuous growth of technology-based companies, and the modification of normative product development processes to address developing world challenges. 

Faculty Advisor
Entrepreneur's Club
Engineers for a Sustainable World
Consulting Club

Business Background (partial)
Allied Signal (now Honeywell) Senior Vice President of Engineering and Technology
GE Corporate R&D Manager of The Electronics Laboratories
Bell Laboratories Member of the Technical Staff

Boards of Director Positions

Public: Neustar (1999-2011) IPO New York Stock Exchange in 2005
Ness Technologies (2003-2008) NASDAQ
Level One (1999-2000) NASDAQ sold to Intel in 2000

H2Scan (2004-2011 )
(also many advisory roles)

Non Profit:

Albany Medical School and Medical Center (1988-1992)
Los Angeles County Regional Food Bank (2004- ). Central food distributer.
South Coast Botanical Garden (2005- ) Los Angeles County Botanical Garden in Palos Verdes
Intelligent Mobility (2007- ) non profit wheelchair provider spun out of E/ME 105
(Also many advisory committees)

Tech Coast Angels (Southern California early stage investing network)
Executive committee LA Chapter (1999- )

B.S., Queens College, City University of New York;
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania (Critical Velocity of Superfluid Liquid Helium Films)

The Associated Students of Caltech (ASCIT) Award for Excellence in Teaching (2004-2005)