Patricia “Tricia” Compas-Markman

Tricia Compas-Markman, this year’s Legacy winner from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), is passionate about water and people.  Born in Glendale, Arizona, Tricia moved between the United States and South Korea several times as a youngster, exposing her to different cultures and ways of life.  Growing up in South Korea and witnessing poverty has shaped Tricia’s outlook on life, influencing her to study engineering to help disadvantaged communities.

While studying Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, Tricia co-founded Cal Poly’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a student-based humanitarian organization focused on helping disadvantaged communities improve their quality of life through implementation of environmentally and economically sustainable engineering projects.  Tricia led a student team in collaborating with professional engineers, missionaries, translators, and villagers to design and construct a slow sand filter drinking water treatment system for a hilltribe village in northern Thailand. Seeing the profound direct effects of safe drinking water led Tricia to study Environmental Engineering as a master’s student at Cal Poly.  

Tricia’s master thesis was focused on designing and developing a solution to the #1 challenge faced by relief organizations: providing clean drinking water to disaster victims and displaced populations.  With the advice of Cal Poly Professor Dr. Tryg Lundquist, Tricia led a team of multi-disciplinary students to design and test the Waterbag.  The Waterbag is a compact system that provides all essential functions of municipal water supply in a personal backpack.  Tricia co-invented the technology and her work was recognized by President Clinton, awarded first place in Cal Poly’s Ray Scherr Business Plan Competition and received seed funding through Innovation Quest.  Tricia’s team had support to move the technology beyond the laboratory, through an E-Team grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.  The Cal Poly team conducted usability testing in Nicaragua and began to develop key stakeholders in the disaster relief sector. 

Tricia is continuing to dedicate her time to this effort.  She founded DayOne Response, Inc. to bring the Waterbag technology to market, and to continue to develop innovative disaster relief products.  A contract from the US Navy allowed DayOne Response to further develop the Waterbags and field test in Thailand. This has led to partnerships with Cascade Designs, Inc. and Procter & Gamble’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water program.  Tricia continues to partner with NCIIA and was recently named a fellow for the Unreasonable Institute’s summer 2011 program.  The next big opportunity will bring Tricia and DayOne Response to Haiti where they will train communities on the Waterbag technology.  The global numbers show that over 255 million people are affected per year by disasters.  To Tricia, water is the gateway to empowering communities. 

Following a disaster, the need for clean drinking water is heightened, and she is passionate about developing solutions for vulnerable populations and relief organizations.