ME alumnus James H. DeVries was honored at the Alumni Awards Dinner at the Michigan League. The College of Engineering Alumni Awards honor those alumni who personify the College’s tradition of excellence. The awards are presented at the Alumni Awards Dinner, which is traditionally held during Michigan Engineering Homecoming Weekend each fall.
DeVries was the recipient of the 2012 ME Alumni Merit Award. The Alumni Merit Awards recognize distinction at the department level — one is presented from each academic department.
Millions of people are alive today because of the cardiac operation equipment that DeVries invented and developed.
As a student in need of a part-time job, James rode his bike to an interview with Dick Sarns, who hired him on the spot to assist in his medical device operation. While juggling part time work with Sarns and a busy mechanical engineering course load, DeVries helped create some of the first commercial heart lung machines, including the one Dr. Barnard used in the first human heart transplant. This work paved the road for a career filled with medical device innovation and achievement.
After working for Sarns and then Baxter Laboratories, DeVries started his own company, DLP, to design and produce products for the protection of the heart during open-heart surgery. From its beginnings in Grand Rapids, the company expanded to include satellite locations in Holland, France, England, and Germany.
Because of his outstanding contribution and achievement, DeVries has received numerous awards, including the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1992, the Business Person of the Year Award in 1993, and the Medical Hall of Fame Award in year 2000. In all, DeVries is named on over one hundred issued patents.
In his own words, James counts as a highlight of his career “the wide array of challenges that I have been allowed to address in the medical area, including heart-lung machines, donor organ storage, cell separation equipment, and systems for protection of the heart during surgery.”
Now retired, James has found a different way to touch people’s hearts: he is now an artist – an accomplished sculptor, with art works collected nationwide and worldwide.