STEAMmates: Meet Aston Walker – Inventor, engineer, STEAMhouse member and local innovator who’s pushing boundaries with Virtual Reality and solving the world’s clean water crisis.
STEAMhouse brings inventors, entrepreneurs and craftspeople together. Our exciting and growing community are sharing skills and knowledge to develop exciting new ideas and products.
We’ve caught up with Aston, to see how STEAMhouse is benefiting regional creatives.
Hi Aston, thanks for taking the time out of your project to speak with us today, can you tell us a little about yourself and what you are working on?
Born in London I worked there as an engineer then a systems analyst and an IT contractor. In 2002 I moved to Birmingham & I was homeless. The wonderful thing is, when you’re really down, it’s not about being in that place but about how you overcome it. Even being at STEAMhouse is about overcoming things, invention & development, it reflects my time recovering from homelessness. It’s good to express myself freely without any restrictions. Creatively my background is in music production, film making, animation and radio production.
I’m currently working on several things [laughs], one is a solar powered water steriliser, the second is a Kevlar viscose mix garment that uses graphene silly putty developed by Prof. Coleman from Dublin University, we are trying to make an interface so that a garment can interact with humans e.g. by reading blood pressure or analysing EEG data. I am also a student at Birmingham City University studying game technology under the supervision of Dr. Carlo Harvey. I am discussing with him, developing and prototyping a C++ Vulkan graphics engine 3D-printed games console using a GitHub rebuild of the Unreal 4 game engine.
What inspired you to focus your energy into this field/product?
I love programming! I like hardware, inventing and that’s about it.
So what is it you are looking to build / achieve?
What I really want to achieve is to inspire others to make the leap from having an idea into making things. There’s a lot going on in makerspaces which inspires me, people building things, whether artists or engineers, I’m also inspired to influence the next generation – now that I’m a grandad!
Ultimately, clean water has been declared as a UN human right and inventing a solar powered solution that uses recycled plastic is a small way of trying to make a difference.
What an amazing innovation! Can you tell us where/ when STEAMhouse came into your thinking?
It came into my thinking whilst working at New Style Radio 98.7fm where the chairman, Alderman Phillip Murphy, invited me to create something to help those less fortunate using my knowledge in science & engineering in 2015. Three years later someone sent me a link to STEAMhouse on LinkedIn and immediately I thought – I need to join to develop my invention further.
And what is it you have done with us so far, how did you start your journey with us?
I am working with STEAMhouse in developing the reactor 5 solar-powered UVC LED water disinfector that will use the Vulkan engine console and interact with the nano-material garment.
Clayton Shaw from STEAMhouse has put me in touch with Laura Leyland from Birmingham City University School of Engineering & the Built Environment, where I hope to have the prototype manufactured in aluminium. I’ve filed for two patents.
What’s next in your STEAMhouse project journey then?
The next thing is, through STEAMhouse, I have attracted a major sponsor, it is a company called Solidworks which makes CAD software which I learnt about in the digital workshop run by Paul Found after he suggested I learned the software.
What words of advice would you give to other innovators out there (feel free to give STEAMhouse a shameless plug J)?
Join STEAMhouse now! There you go, come and join!
Thanks Aston, we look forward to seeing what unfolds for you and your work.