MUM alumnus Michael Dearborn
Michael at MUM with his 1:4 scale model of an algae growth device (photobioreactor) that feeds light to algae in an underground tank
With Lonnie Gamble's renewable energy class next to a giant windmill blade at the National Wind Technology Center in Colorado
Testing Portapure’s water filtration device
Michael Dearborn Has a Passion for Sustainable Design
MUM alumnus Michael Dearborn has always been interested in design. As a teenager, he learned architectural design, 3D modeling and rendering, and built a portfolio working with his architect father. When he became a Sustainable Living student, he discovered that his passion was sustainable design. For his senior project, he designed algae photobioreactors. In addition, he helped design the MUM biodiesel system, a natural swimming pool, a solar food dehydrator, and numerous other ecomachines.
His design experience proved handy when he got a job at Portapure, a Chicago-based company manufacturing portable water filtration devices. Michael now handles both product and graphic design for the company.
“I wouldn’t have gotten where I am now without the Sustainable Living program and the skills I was taught by Mark Stimson on how to make things,” said Michael. “In the Sustainable Living program you also learn the big issues, so you become motivated at the heart level.”
At Portapure, Michael has refined the design for the company’s main product, a portable 5-gallon water filtration backpack that filters out microbes, chemicals, and sediment, providing drinking water in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and other countries where a shortage of clean running water is an issue. Michael is now working on customizing the system for other locations and developing an in-home version.
The company has won several awards for technology innovation and sustainability. “In Haiti people sell water in plastic bags,” Michael said. “I calculated that each one of our systems potentially replaces the use of 30,000 plastic bags.”
Michael thinks fondly of his years at MUM and the quality of the student population. “MUM attracts a community of students that is right for innovation and creativity, which is what made me go into this field,” he said.