An entrepreneur, scientist, and educator, Dr. Lee was committed to communicating advances in nutritional science to medical professionals, food manufactures and the public at large.
Born in a small farming town in Wisconsin in 1895, Lee was a child with a tremendous desire to learn. As he grew he became an avid researcher and devoured books on inventors, science and chemistry. He wrote journals and made lists of biochemistry and nutrition definitions. Fascinated with how the body worked, he studied the endocrine and immune systems and how they affect health. He became well versed in biology. Driven to learn, Lee taught himself physics from his older sister’s schoolbooks. He was later asked to teach his high school physics class. After high school, Royal Lee found jobs working with farm machines, cars and motors. In 1918 he married; soon after, he was called to military service.
A Rising Visionary: An Electrical and Mechanical Engineer
In his 20’s, Lee was hired by a company to repair complex electrical equipment. He became extremely interested in a dental drill motor that needed a redesign. Lee realized that to understand this drill, he needed to think like a dentist, and enrolled in the Marquette University School of Dentistry in the early 1920’s. While at school, he developed dental drill prototypes and eventually designed the centrifugal governor that measured and regulated the speed of small motors.
Dr. Lee’s governor addressed a then-long-standing problem of accurately controlling motor speeds while under load. He was awarded a patent for this novel invention, which was the basis for incorporating the Lee Engineering Company. Lee Engineering governors were produced at a fraction of the cost of other governors, which led to their wide-spread use in home appliances, aircraft, ships, motion picture equipment, adding machines, typewriters and manufacturing equipment. Dr. Lee’s success in governed controls was the catalyst that supported his interest in nutrition and biochemistry.
Other products based on Dr. Lee’s work inventions followed: the Lee Household Flour Mill, the Lee Liquidator (to puree foods), the Pexton Press (to extract juice from puree), a variety of footswitches for scientific and industrial applications and lattice apparatus systems.
A SYSTEMS THINKER Dr. Lee applied a systems-thinking approach to all areas of his research and innovation. Dr. Lee’s motors and controls were integrated into other inventions, designed to process natural food ingredients without disturbing complex nutrient content, These products included: the Lee Household Flour mill, the Lee Liquidator (to puree foods), and the Pexton Press (to extract juice from puree). Other products based on Dr. Lee’s work included a variety of footswitches for scientific and industrial applications and lattice apparatus systems,
Throughout his life, Lee acquired nearly 100 patents in the areas of electro-mechanical devices, food preservation and processing, scientific apparatus, automotive, and medical devices.