Following his graduation from The Shipley School in 2011, Matthew Lisle ’11 went on to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. It was there that Lisle and his co-founder Adrian Lievano first came up with the idea for the company now known as Everwaters, initially pitched as a community water filtration system for the university's first-ever President’s Engagement Prize (which they went on to win). “The prize was organized around any big idea that would solve a big problem,” Lisle notes, “and water was obviously number one on our list.”
The mission of Everwaters, which manufactures and distributes water filtration systems, is to aid the 1.8 billion people worldwide who currently live without access to clean water, free of harmful bacteria and heavy metals. “We had a connection to a non-profit that had done some work in Kenya, and we heard about this seed that we could use in water filtration,” Lisle recounts, “and that’s kind of the process of how it got put together.”
Currently, the main operations of Everwaters are based in Nairobi, Kenya, with an additional team in San Francisco. The company has helped over 4,000 families in 11 different countries receive clean drinking water. Everwaters’ future plans are to return to domestic areas of trouble. “There are several places in the States that have relatively frequent boiled water advisories,” Lisle explained. “There are plenty of places that have degrading infrastructure, that have a lot of use for a filter like Everwaters.”
Lisle recently stepped down from his official position at Everwaters to pursue a Master’s degree in robotics at the University of Pennsylvania, though he continues to stay in touch with the teams in the U.S. and Kenya. He had initially planned to pursue robotics immediately following his undergraduate, but the success of Everwaters offered a different route. “My senior design project was a 3D-printed prosthetic arm with touch sensors,” he said, “so robotics was kind of an ongoing interest.” These advanced models of prosthetics allow users to, “really feel and engage with their environments, in ways you can’t with other 3D-printed prosthetics,” he noted.
Graduating this year, Lisle hopes to continue his path of technological betterment by using his skills in robotics to create devices such as affordable and accessible prosthetics for children and adults in need. “Our motivation was looking at children who have lost their arms. There’s not really a solution where they can get a high-tech arm, because they’re just going to outgrow it.” Between his work at Everwaters and his passion for robotics, Lisle’s main interests continually lie in improving the lives of others. “I find those to be the most motivating.”