Prolific Chandler biomedical inventor honored SanTan Sun News

Prolific Chandler biomedical inventor honored

Prolific Chandler biomedical inventor honored
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By COLLEEN SPARKS
Managing Editor

A Chandler man who has filed more than 76 patents for medical devices that help improve treatment of cardiac and neurological diseases will be honored next week at a special school in Pennsylvania that he said changed his life.

Milton Hershey School in Hershey has selected William Harding as the 2019 Alumnus of the Year in honor of his work in the biomedical industry, where he is changing people’s lives by creating solutions to international health care challenges.

The school will recognize Harding during a special dinner on June 8 and he will address students, staff members and sponsors at the 2019 commencement for Milton Hershey School graduates on June 9 in Hershey.

Harding graduated from Milton Hershey School, a free private school, in 1978 and now works as a distinguished technical fellow for Medtronic, an international medical device company.

He also chairs the 336-member Technical Fellows Organization at Medtronic and he and his colleagues are transforming medical products and services around the globe.

His first patent was for inventing the “radio frequency (RF) transponder-based implantable medical system,” which is an implanted cardiac device.

The renowned biomedical engineer and innovator enrolled at Milton Hershey School when he was 13.

Students live in houses on campus and take academically rigorous classes at modern facilities with advanced technology and hundreds of extracurricular activities.

Harding attributes his survival and success in his professional and personal life to the strong sense of ethics, personal accountability and nurturing, supportive adults who guided him at Milton Hershey School.

“My father had passed away when I was 10,” Harding said. “My mother learned of the school. We moved up to Pennsylvania to take advantage of that. It was very stabilizing. Accountability is one thing it really instilled in me, the ethics and morals.”

Harding, who moved to Arizona in 1998, grew up in the Orlando, Florida area, the second oldest of five siblings.

The beautiful, elegant buildings at Milton Hershey School immediately impressed Harding.

“It was a total ‘wow’ moment,” he said. “You see all the things Milton Hershey did during the Depression, elegant buildings. It was just an amazing accomplishment. It was just overwhelmingly cool.”

Hershey Chocolate Company founder Milton S. Hershey and his wife Catherine founded Milton Hershey School.

The couple could not have children of their own and they decided to create a home and school for boys who were orphans.

Milton, after his wife’s death, donated all his personal fortune to establish the Milton Hershey School Trust, which pays for the school. Today the school houses and educates more than 2,000 children from lower-income families.

Harding said his house mother and father were caring and set boundaries but understood boys would occasionally misbehave.

They instilled in the boys the importance of owning up to their actions. Harding said he was a prankster then and now but also made the honor roll and focused on electrical engineering at Milton.

He said he had incredible teachers who inspired him including one who taught him computing. Harding received three years of computer training before starting college.

Besides the technological training, students also milked cows and took care of horses on campus. Harding spent much of his time swimming, something that came naturally to the Florida native who had many swimmers in his family.

He was a member of the junior and senior swimming teams and worked as a lifeguard and water safety instructor, as well as participating as a member of the drill team (color guard).

Harding earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science with an emphasis on electrical engineering at Millersville University in Pennsylvania.

He worked in other fields in Florida before getting into biomedicine.

He earned his master’s degree in information technology from the University of Phoenix and is working on earning a Ph.D. in general psychology with an emphasis in technology integration, learning and psychology at Grand Canyon University.

Harding is focused on things he has learned and developed for making medical devices and is doing research at Mayo Clinics in Phoenix, Minnesota and Florida as part of his work towards the Ph.D.

He said his wireless pacemaker is able to deliver wireless sensing and pacing therapy without the need for the traditional leads that run from the heart, through the vascular system and then to a larger unit implanted in the patient’s chest. The system eliminates the negative side effects associated with transvascular devices and decreases the number of surgeries and surgical time normally associated with cardiac disease therapy. Harding said the most recent patent he and colleagues obtained was for a system that alleviates pain.

He is emeritus chairman of the Tempe Technical Guild and has twice received the Tempe Mayor’s Disabilities Award.

Harding and others at Medtronic give young adults who have cognitive or physical disabilities jobs at the company for a year. He is chairman of an employee resource group that advocates for people with disabilities at Medtronic.

Part of Harding’s leg was amputated in a skydiving accident. He used to be a competitive skydiver and also has a black belt in taekwondo.

“William Harding epitomizes the vision of our founders — Milton and Catherine Hershey — who always hoped for Milton Hershey School to be a place where students would leave striving to make a difference,” Milton President Pete Gurt said.

“William is resilient and innovative; and like our founders, believes in an obligation to give back to society. His contributions to the biomedical community capture what it means to be an alumnus of the Milton Hershey School,” Gurt added.

Harding and Madeline have been married for 27 years and live with their dogs, Roo and Ivi.

Information: mhskids.org

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