In 2005, University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering benefactor Robert E. Fischell and his family donated $31 million to establish the Fischell Department of Bioengineering and the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices at the University of Maryland. The Fischell family's transformational gift was a major step in the Clark School's continuing rise into the ranks of the nation's premier engineering schools.
Scientist and engineer Robert Fischell has had two pioneering careers: his current one inventing life-saving medical devices, and a former one helping create the modern era of space satellites so critical to communications, entertainment, business and national security.
Fischell, who holds more than 200 patents, is the father of modern medical stents, lifetime pacemaker batteries and implantable insulin pumps. He is also the father of his closest collaborators: sons Dr. David Fischell, physicist; Dr. Tim Fischell, cardiologist; and Scott Fischell, M.B.A.; who share his passion for changing the world through inventive genius, hard work and philanthropy.
One of the results of their collaborations is a pacemaker-sized implantable computer that provides the earliest possible warning of impending heart attack. Fischell founded Angel Medical Systems Inc., where son David is CEO, to bring this technology into use. Named by his granddaughter Jennifer Fischell, Angel Medical is one of more than half a dozen companies, including Pacesetter Systems, IsoStent, NeuroPace, and NeuraLieve, that Fischell has founded since 1969 to develop his inventions.
Mrs. Susan Fischell is the creator and sponsor of the Fischell Department of Bioengineering Capstone Design Awards. In this competition, launched in 2009, the top senior undergraduate project teams as selected by a panel of judges win monetary prizes donated by Mrs. Fischell and are invited to present their work to the public. The teams may also have the opportunity to have their inventions put on track for development at the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices.
Fischell received his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Duke University in 1951, and an M.S. in physics from the University of Maryland in 1953. He was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Maryland in 1996. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has received numerous awards and recognitions including induction into the Space Technology Hall of Fame. Fischell serves on the Clark School Board of Visitors, as well as on the University of Maryland, College Park Foundation Board of Trustees. In May 2002, Fischell was inducted into the Clark School Innovation Hall of Fame and received Maryland's 2001 Major F. Riddick, Jr. Entrepreneurship Award.
On Thursday, May 19, 2016, President Barack Obama awarded Dr. Fischell the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (NMTI), the highest honor for technological achievement bestowed by the president of the United States.