STORIES OF IMPACT

Michael Simmons

Student Scholarship Profile

In summer 2021, Michael Simmons, a 26-year-old electrical engineering major from Spokane, interned at a firm where he was involved with projects that, if realized to their full potential, could benefit millions of people living in water-stressed communities.

Simmons says the experience at Ultropia, a Seattle-based nonprofit founded by Eastern alumni, would not have been possible without support from the Krumble Foundation, which provided a stipend that helped him make ends meet during his internship.

“The stipend allowed me to work for a good cause,” a grateful Simmons said. “It gave me experience that I would have otherwise never had.”

He is not alone. Since its inception two years ago, the Krumble Foundation internship stipend has helped 34 students like Simmons participate in unpaid internships for nonprofits and government organizations — opportunities that align with their career interests but don’t provide income to support their living expenses.

The internship support from Krumble Foundation was vital to his participation in what turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. His research into how a specialized form of transducer — a device that converts energy from one form to another —  might be useful in reducing water usage in washing machines and was included in Ultropia’s presentation for a unique combination washer/dryer unit at the $100,000 MIT Climate and Energy pitch contest, last spring.

That unique concept earned the Eagle entrepreneurs on Team Ultropia, Amy Jean Swanson, Cody Birkland and Lloyd V. Dees, first place in the prestigious MIT competition, and they walked away with some helpful seed money.

“You don’t necessarily think of sound waves for cleaning your clothes or atomizing water or that sort of thing. So, it was a very interesting and different angle,” Simmons said.

In addition, Simmons helped to design and develop a small-scale prototype of an energy-efficient water atomization unit capable of purifying a gallon of water a minute that was portable enough to be used in places without a significant electrical grid.

After graduating from Eastern this winter, Simmons plans to pursue engineering work in electronics that includes semiconductors and designing boards for hardware.

Being involved in projects from the research to development phase was an amazing experience that will definitely help with his career, said Simmons, who added, “Without the [stipend] support I would have had a very different intern experience.”

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