Evan A. Thomas, Ph.D., P.E., is an Assistant Professor and Director of the SWEET (Sustainable Water, Energy and Environmental Technologies) Laboratory, and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University. Evan works at the interface of engineering, environmental health and social business, with professional experience working in government, industry, non-profits and academia. Evan holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado at Boulder and is a registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) in Environmental Engineering in the State of Texas.
At Portland State, the SWEET Lab designs and tests sustainable life support technologies for spacecraft and developing countries. The SWEET Lab’s current primary focus is developing and implementing remotely accessible instrumented monitoring technologies designed to improve the collection of effectiveness evidence in global health programs, including high efficiency cookstoves, water pumps, household water filters, sanitation systems, pedestrian footbridges and other developing world appropriate technologies. The SWEETLab has projects in India, Nepal, Indonesia, the Philippines, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Haiti and other countries with partners including the Gates Foundation, USAID, Mercy Corps, the Lemelson Foundation, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, and DelAgua. The SWEET Lab also has on-going work with the NASA-Johnson Space Center on microgravity fluid management systems.
Evan is also a social business entrepreneur engaged in global health programs. Evan was a founding volunteer with Engineers Without Borders-USA in 2002, which led to co-founding Manna Energy Limited in 2007. Manna was acquired by DelAgua Health in 2013. In 2012, Evan co-founded SWEETSense Inc., an Oregon technology company co-owned by Portland State University and Manna. Evan is currently the Program Director for DelAgua Health, a social enterprise currently working with the Government of Rwanda Ministry of Health to develop a water treatment and improved cookstove program for 600,000 households. This program evolved from the first-ever United Nations registered carbon credit for water treatment program, established in Rwanda by Manna Energy. Manna also developed, under contract to Vestergaard Frandsen, the largest water treatment intervention conducted by a private organization – a four million person program operating in Kenya and funded by carbon credits.
Prior to joining PSU, Evan worked as a civil servant at the NASA-Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas for six years. At NASA, Evan was a principal investigator and project manager in the Life Support and Habitability Systems Branch working on concepts for sustainable Moon and Mars spacecraft. These included microgravity fluid management technologies and water recovery systems spanning the range of technology readiness from research and concept development through operational spacecraft hardware flying on the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.
Zdenek Zumr earned his BSME from Portland State University and is pursuing an M.S. in Electrical Engineering. His research and engineering activities include the SWEET Lab, the Green Building Research Lab, and the Dryden Drop Tower. Zdenek was born in the Czech republic and raised in Switzerland where he acquired professional FEAM certification in electronics. He worked as a contract technician and project manager on international projects for Swiss companies in Europe, South America and the Middle East. During a ten year sabbatical from technology he earned a Masters Degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine, practiced and taught Chinese Medicine and published an instructional workbook for students.
Anndee Huff is a Environmental Engineering undergraduate. Anndee has developed experience with control systems, drinking water treatment, and medical devices. Anndee was also the President of the American Water Works Association Student Chapter, and was the Vice-President of the Engineers Without Borders-USA Portland State University Chapter.
Chad Norvell is an undergraduate student of civil engineering at Portland State University pursuing research in green building technology and sustainable international development. Current research focuses are the application of phase-change material to passive reduction of building energy use and methods of monitoring and evaluation of humanitarian projects in the developing world. A long-time member of and leader in Engineers Without Borders USA, Chad has worked to develop projects serving critical needs in Nicaragua and is working with similar organizations to do the same in Haiti and Bolivia.
Peter Kahn is a post-bac student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Portland State University. His research within the SWEET lab focuses on applications of structural and geotechnical engineering in developing communities with specific attention to the design, assessment and monitoring of rural pedestrian footbridges. This research is further enhanced by his years of experience as a commercial construction contractor in bush Alaska. Peter also performs complimentary research in the iStar (Infrastructure Testing and Applied Research) lab at PSU where he is working on a link column frame design for rapid return to occupancy of buildings after they have sustained a design level seismic event.
Jeff Tilton is a post bacc student earning a degree in environmental engineering with a focus in water resources. He is interested in social enterprise and how technology can be used to create a more equitable and sustainable future. Jeff is currently involved in aiding in the development of deployment models for the SWEETSense technology in future water treatment systems provided by SWEETLab’s private sector partners.
Evan Rhead was an undergraduate in mechanical engineering. His research activities included projects in Rwanda, Haiti, and Indonesia on oxygen concentrators, instrumented monitoring and water treatment.
Dan Houck was a undergraduate in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. He holds a Bachelor of the Arts from St. John’s College, MD, where he double-majored in Philosophy and the History of Mathematics and Science and double-minored in Classics and Comparative Literature. His research interests include renewable, sustainable, and alternative energy production, capture, and usage. He was born and raised in Tempe, Arizona and misses the sun. In his free time he enjoys gardening and homebrewing.
Gabe Garbarino has a background in secure telecommunications in the US Marine Corps where I served four years active duty as a Satellite Terminal Operator in the Middle East and South East Asia. I am currently a Junior in Portland State University’s Mechanical Engineering Program. The research opportunities that interest me most lie in the development of energy systems for developing countries. I like to think that research which serves to bring energy to those that need it most will positively influence the way energy needs are met for those in industrialized nations.
Austin S. Hudson is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering at Portland State University. Austin has lived in Oregon since 2006 where he enjoys being actively engaged in the community to shape the built environment and enhance social interactions. Most research with which he is involved addresses water treatment and management. His interests include bicycling, painting, camping, and cooking.
Betsy Gillard is a civil engineering undergraduate at Portland State University, with a focus in geotechnical engineering and hydrology. Her current work in the SWEET Lab is improving the Bring Your Own Water system in Aguilar, Mexico with the addition of a coagulation and flocculation process. Outside of the SWEET Lab, Betsy is collaborating on a water distribution project in Nicaragua with Engineers Without Borders PSU chapter. She is president of EWB-PSU, and is also president-elect of PSU’s chapter of Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honor Society.
Stephen Forner has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Entrepreneurship. Stephen graduated in Spring 2011 with a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. His research looked primarily at the effectiveness and usage statistics of water treatment solutions in the developing world. There are many opportunities to make this very opaque market into a much more information rich and therefore efficient place. This helps organizations apply their limited funds to the neediest situations and be assured that the money is helping the most people.
Laila Rahmatian earned B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from Purdue University. She is pursuing a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Prior to enrolling to PSU, Laila worked as a co-op student at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL working on soil analysis and lunar excavation. She also worked on ways of proving how Space technologies benefit Earth and how they can be utilized as dual use technologies. Laila’s research interests lie in Earth and Space sustainability, appropriate technology and social entrepreneurship. She hopes to implement them in projects in developing countries.