Excited, the kids and us coaches started trying to track down the company - amazingly it had grown out of Harvard and MIT and so we found someone we knew who knew Catlin Powers, the CEO. Catlin was incredibly generous with her time and responded to an email from the kids and arranged a conference call with them. She was in China at the manufacturing line at the time.
Catlin did one better - she offered to hand carry production unit #1 back to the USA a week later and send it to us to make Nick's flight to Chile to meet up with his planes to Antartica. We were over the moon! This was changing from a nice project that the kids did for the competition to maybe even coming up with a solution that could be implemented to save lives on Mt. Everest in the next year!
We had to wait for months for the expeditions to get back from Antartica, but the pictures and data were worth it!! It melted water at altitude and at -15 degrees, beyond the conditions at Mt. Everest base camp! In one of the pictures, the person aligning the solar cooker to melt ice is an indigenous Sherpa gentleman working in Antartica before going back for the Everest season. The report back was that they all wanted to try it more!
During this time, Catlin was able to take her product on Shark Tank and get a $500K investment from Mark Cuban! Quite the story on their project. Right now they are getting ready to talk to the Everest exploration contacts when they get back from the Everest season (April-May). It would be an amazing full circle if next year we send one up to Everest for trials. If we can reduce the amount of propane used - it will save lives.
|The kids putting together the SolSport cooker after it came back from Anartica
|Posing with the SolSport in the yard - we might just do a cookout before we send the unit back to Catlin!