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Joe Belle Memorial Young Alumni Award

Jon Dekar ’11

Mechanical Engineering
Jon Dekar ’11
Jon Dekar ’11

Inspiration from a family member during his freshman year in high school served as a catalyst for Jon Dekar’s lifelong commitment to making a difference.

Dekar watched as his grandfather was forced to rely on his wife to spoon-feed him because of a degenerative neuromuscular condition. As he witnessed a loved one lose independence and even a desire to eat due to the circumstances, Dekar became intrigued by the connection that exists between eating and health — from a mental and physical standpoint.

While attending the University of Dayton as an engineering student, he received further inspiration from a young girl named Hope following an introduction made by his professor.  Hope’s mother had approached the University’s engineering department seeking innovative ways to help her daughter eat with more dignity. Hope’s biggest desire was to eat every meal without putting her face in a plate of food.

Dekar went to work in his dorm room. He began developing his first prototype of what would subsequently be known as Obi, a revolutionary eating device for individuals with upper extremity strength and mobility limitations. He revised prototypes throughout his college career.  

After graduating from the University in 2011, Dekar founded his company, DesĪn LLC (pronounced “Design”), in Dayton, and began working full-time to research, develop and manufacture the first robotic feeding device on the market. Today, Obi is decorated with many of the industry’s most prestigious international awards, namely the Medical Design Excellence Award — Gold Winner, and Research and Development Magazine’s R&D100. In addition, Obi is currently available in more than 20 countries and now helps thousands of people worldwide eat with independence.

Dekar’s creation has transformed the lives of people of all ages, who now use Obi in a variety of environments, such as at home, school or while dining at a restaurant. He has given people everywhere the ability to eat with improved independence, nutrition, emotional well-being, and social inclusion.  

Jon Dekar’s success and impact are truly an inspiration for others to dream big and make a difference.


Joe Belle Memorial Young Alumni Award
For volunteer service to students and early career achievement

Joe Belle made significant contributions to the University of Dayton's Catholic and Marianist character through his exceptional caring about people.

The Joe Belle Memorial Young Alumni Award is designed to recognize young alumni who carry that same spirit and have shown great promise and accomplishment in their chosen profession, service to their community or service to the University of Dayton and its mission. To be eligible, candidates must have graduated from the University of Dayton within the past 10 years.


Past Recipients

Clementine Bihiga ’09
Mandy Brogdon '04
Maura Carew '04
Thomas J. Dharte '05
Justin Forzano '08
John Gravier '08
Laura Schmitz Keefe '05
Michael L. Lofton '05
Matt Maroon '06
Molly MacCready '08
Adam G. Molina '00
James "Scott" Murphy '01
Nicole Miller Olszewski ’08
Daniel Rajaiah '13
Jeffrey P. Rombach '02
Chris Schmidt '99
Michael Vehar '05, '09
Rashad M. Young '98
Sean Young '12


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