While traveling from place to place during a backpacking trip around the United Kingdom, Salman Alotaibi couldn’t wash his clothes very often.
“I was carrying more dirty clothes than clean ones,” Alotaibi said.
The experience inspired the Kuwaiti international student to invent Pure Trip, a portable washer designed for travelers. The five-pound machine is about a foot in height and powered by a six-volt battery. It expands to accommodate water, soap and clothes “like a slinky.” It can wash up to a T-shirt, shorts, socks and underwear at one time, Alotaibi said.
In March, the Kuwait Youth Excellence Creativity Awards committee recognized Alotaibi for his science and technology work. He met Emir Sheikh Sabah IV Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s head of state, at the Bayan Palace in Kuwait City.
“I was very excited and did not sleep the night before the ceremony,” Alotaibi said. “Above all that, I saw the joy on my family, friends and colleagues for the award recognition.”
Alotaibi and fellow senior mechanical engineering major Yaquob Bushehri also won the Grand Prize and Crowd Favorite titles at the 2018 Fox School’s Innovative Idea Competition. This was one of Bushehri’s top achievements at Temple, because it allowed him to meet his home country’s leaders, he said.
“We were the only people [at the idea competition] that had a solution to an actual problem,” Bushehri added.
Anthony Ferrar, a mechanical engineering professor and Alotaibi’s mentor, commended the team’s hard work and determination to perfect the washer’s design.
“This team has a real tenacity to keep working at an idea until it works,” Ferrar said. “They were very dedicated to this project and because they kept trying to understand the design, the result is that they win competitions.”
Alotaibi first became fascinated with technical engineering when he was a child. He remembers being interested in a small, four-cylinder car engine at a Kuwait Science Club.
“Toys that children were supposed to play with turned into experiments in my hands,” Alotaibi said. “They were found all broken in my curious attempt to investigate how they function and what they’re made out of.”
In addition to Pure Trip, Alotaibi is an active member in the Temple Robotics club, worked as an engineering department teaching assistant during Spring 2018 and completed research analysis projects in production design equipment.
Outside of Temple, Alotaibi works as a science presenter at the Franklin Institute facilitating interactive activities and providing educational support to museum visitors. He also guides tours.
Pure Trip is currently patent-pending, and Alotaibi and Bushehri hope to manufacture the washer in the US and internationally. In the meantime, after graduation Alotaibi will work as a field engineer in Strasburg, Ohio at Schlumberger, an engineering company focusing on oil and gas production. He chose the company because he wants to understand the operations of oilfield equipment, Alotaibi said.
This is a dream come true for Alotaibi.
“I knew for sure I wanted to be an inventor because I admire Thomas Edison and was eager to follow in an inventor’s footsteps,” Alotaibi said. “But I did not know I was going to have my bachelor’s degree from the U.S.A, so I am proud to be here.”