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Marquette University Alumni Association

Opus College of Engineering Award Recipients

Young Alumnus of the Year Award

Jason SchoenJason A. Schoen, Eng '05

As an entrepreneur and the co-founder of the medical device company Cadence Biomedical, Jason knows what it’s like to take the first steps to develop something that’s life-changing. Which is good because he’s helping people take first steps of their own.

Jason designs products and technology like the Kickstart Walking System, which is an exoskeleton device that helps a person regain mobility after suffering a neurological injury. For this work, the Seattle Business magazine named Cadence Biomedical a top innovator.

“Watching someone with limited or no mobility take unassisted steps for the first time in years and knowing that it’s a result of something I have designed is the most rewarding feeling I have ever experienced,” he says.

While at Marquette, Jason often wondered if he was on the right path — a struggle that taught him a great deal of determination that translates into his work today. He thrives in small, startup environments, and, when he’s not in the office, he’s volunteering with the Seattle organization Outdoors for All, which helps improve the lives of people with disabilities through outdoor recreation. The Green Bay, Wis., native also uses his entrepreneurial experiences to mentor teams in the annual business plan competition at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, a program that provided support when his company launched in 2010.

“Having the ability to employ my education and skills in a way that can make a meaningful impact on the lives of others gives me a feeling of success,” he says.

Hometown: Green Bay, Wis.
Favorite quote: “Don’t give up the ship.” — James Lawrence
One person past or present with whom you would like to have dinner: My grandfather. I was fairly young when he passed away and though I have heard a lot of stories about him, I never was able to know him personally.
Marquette faculty or staff member who had an impact on you: Dr. Lars Olson. I was fortunate to be on the first senior design team for Dr. Olson’s Human Powered Nebulizer project in 2004–05. In addition to the skills and knowledge that the senior design program is intended to instill in students, I learned the beauty of simplistic product design that I attribute directly to Dr. Olson’s guidance and leadership. That is something that has stayed with me in my daily work.
Dr. Michelle Johnson. I had applied for a research position in Dr. Johnson’s rehabilitation robotics lab and was incredibly hopeful and optimistic about the opportunity. She taught me to never be afraid or hesitant to attempt the things I didn’t currently know how to do.  She gave me a great deal of confidence.
Favorite Marquette memory: Taking a road trip to New Orleans for spring break followed by a second trip for the Final Four. I don’t know differential equations as well as I should, but I wouldn’t change that experience for anything.
Career he aspired to have in grade school: I always wanted to be a firefighter.  Sometimes I still think about it, but I’m pretty well down the path as a product engineer at this point.
Marquette legacy: My uncle, Michael Jones, graduated from Marquette engineering in the 80s. He was a big reason that I had considered/applied to Marquette.
Most influential person in his life: Without a doubt, my father. We get along very well but don’t see eye to eye on many issues. That said, he has always instilled in me a strong sense of respect, duty and selflessness. I can only hope to one day be able to lead by example in the way he has. He is a complete embodiment of what it means to work hard, and I aspire to live up to that standard he has set.