December 14, 2011

A Solution for Vulnerable Populations. ~ Tricia Compas

Photo: doug88888

Growing up in South Korea and witnessing poverty has shaped my outlook on life, influencing me to study engineering to help disadvantaged communities.

I decided to pursue a master’s in civil/environmental engineering at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, focused on water treatment for disaster relief applications.  While studying, I co-founded the Cal Poly chapter of Engineers Without Borders, and my interest in water treatment grew following a discussion on the impact our chapter had on a Thailand village.

My mentor told me, “Through the engineering of efficient water treatment and sanitation facilities, engineers save more lives and prevent more illnesses then the entire medical profession.” (quote from RX for Survival a Global Health Challenge). This really hit home and inspired me to take responsibility for my education, and since, I worked with communities in Thailand, Nicaragua, and Haiti on appropriate water solutions (2005-present).

From my time in Thailand and Nicaragua with Engineers Without Borders-Cal Poly, I saw the direct effects of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation: improved health, decreased burden of water collection allowing more time for education and work opportunities. To me, water is the gateway to empowering communities. Based on this effort, I established a social enterprise, DayOne Response, Inc., to carry on my passion of designing and developing solutions for vulnerable populations and relief organizations.

Through my experiences as a civil engineer, designer, and social entrepreneur, I have come to understand how focusing on the needs of others, iteration, and partnerships can greatly affect the ideas and ultimately, implementing ideas into solutions.  Having the opportunity to pursue my passions fuels my day-to-day work as I am building a company I truly believe in.

As founder of DayOne Response, Inc., I am focused on finalizing the DayOne Waterbag design based on user feedback, building partnerships and bringing the technology to market.  The DayOne Waterbag, is a water backpack with chemical treatment packets and filter.  It provides all the essential functions of municipal water supply: (1) water collection, (2) transport, (3) treatment, and (4) hygienic storage. Prior to company incorporation, I led a team in developing the Waterbag technology, which resulted in: recognition and funding by President Bill Clinton; issuance of US Patent and submittal for patent continuation (which I am a co-inventor); usability testing in Nicaragua; and awarded a grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.

After I founded DayOne Response in April 2010, my team participated in U.S. Navy humanitarian relief exercise in Thailand and received a U.S. Navy Research and development contract to further develop the technology and produce Waterbags in collaboration with Cal Poly and Cascade Designs, Inc.  Most recently, I have worked in Haiti to gain user feedback and partner with relief organizations, and developed the business through the Unreasonable Institute 2011 fellowship, and was recently invited to Japan to participate in a social innovators program.

I couldn’t be more excited to do what I am doing today, helping bring clean water to disaster relief victims.


Tricia Compas is co-inventor of the DayOne WaterbagTM and founder of DayOne Response, Inc. She received her M.S. in Civil/Environmental Engineering and has experience working on water treatment technologies for developing countries, such as Thailand, Nicaragua, and Haiti. Her work has been recognized by President Clinton, and she was awarded first place in Cal Poly’s Ray Scherr Business Plan Competition and Innovation Quest.

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