Garage Geniuses: These ‘Golden Inventors’ Are Trying to Save the World

Robert Nepper, 82, and Bill Stevenson, 91, are lifelong inventors who’ve spent most of their grownup lives working as engineers for 3M, making publish-it notes and Scotch tape. Now, each spends their golden years running on inventions to help store the sector. “We’re both getting very near the last of our years,” Nepper said. “We are no longer looking to make a lot of money; we’re simply seeking to do humanitarian paintings. That is what our efforts had been, ordinarily, for the remaining 10, 15 years.”

Each Nepper and Stevenson are lifelong Minnesotans whose passions for inventing stretch back to formative years. “I grew up in southeastern Minnesota, on a tiny farm returned in the hills,” Nepper stated. “I’ve always wanted to construct matters. One element I did was I made an alarm device from the barn to my bedroom. While my dad got down there milking cows, he’d ring it up and get us up, so we would just come down and assist him in milking the cows with the aid of hand. Most effective once I left, did he get a milking gadget? Besides, that became my starting hobby in making matters. I have enjoyed all of it in my existence.

Stevenson said he continually knew he wanted to be an inventor. “One time, I found an ebook on mechanical engineering in a chum’s library, and I am saying, ‘Oh my gosh.’ The pumps, steam engines, mechanisms, and all this top-notch stuff, and that I simply an idea, ‘that is what I need to be,'” he said. “I went to the University of Minnesota, and after I graduated, I got this job with the wonderful 3M employer, which I used to be so excited for.” Even though both labored at 3M for many years, neither knew the opposite existed until they had each retired.

“This mutual pal of ours, a concept we had been both so inquisitive about innovations, that we must understand each different,” Stevenson said. “He organized for us to meet on the day that he was given married. We met there for the primary time and became pals ever for a reason.” They quickly joined forces and started North celebrity gadgets, inventing diverse devices and a large tape dispenser to do away with asbestos from walls, floors, ceilings; shade-coded Allen wrenches; and a gadget that makes WAPIS.

Garage Geniuses


“A WAPI is a special thermometer for measuring the temperature of water excessively sufficient to wherein it became pasteurize-in a position, however no longer boiling,” Nepper stated. “We’ve remodeled one hundred,000 of them for our little business. Now not best that, we were given no complaints.” Nepper and Stevenson determined to scale up, growing a tool that could easily pasteurize water in developing international locations.

“I am particularly interested in the 0.33 global, where the more youthful humans are death,” Stevenson stated. “I experience that I can do something about it and am inclined to spend money and get it going. We’ve got to give you what we assume is a wonderful tool that goes past our expectation of not handling ten families, not dealing with 100 families, and coping with over a thousand humans. Fairly priced and might do all of this.”

Using an aggregate of sun energy and propane, Nepper and Stevenson have created a water filtration device capable of generating over 3,000 gallons of pasteurized water in keeping with the day. “We will do an enormous quantity of ingesting water due to the fact we function at -and-a-quarter gallons in keeping with minute,” Stevenson stated. “While you multiply that out through 24 hours, it is enough for a small town or a massive village in Africa.”

Nepper and Stevenson have already despatched some water pasteurization gadgets to Haiti and the Philippines. Still, they seek help from large agencies to make their invention accessible on a large scale. “If we could get in touch with the proper business enterprise that knows how to get matters shipped to Africa and has human beings there who are educated enough to run the sort of gadgets, that makes a lot of distinction inside the global,” Stevenson said.

Nepper and Stevenson see this product as helping human beings all over the globe. “What humans need to recognize is it’s the children that get sick,” Stevenson stated. “No longer so much the adults. Those youngsters drink muddy water. They are consuming water from the streets. It is lousy. It bothers me a lot, so I am worried about it. It can be solved.”