Student Success Stories
Constructing a toothpick bridge that held more than 700 pounds, assembling a sugar rocket engine with more than 10 pounds of thrust and winning the ubiquitous “egg drop” competition are just small engineering feats for Aaron Willis. But his latest endeavor – called H2 transport – is anything but small.
With H2 Transport, Willis is creating hydrogen-lifting pods, which would be cleaner and cheaper than using helium to give lift to blimps, lifting cranes and weather balloons.
“The ultimate goal of the hydrogen pods concept would be the re-introduction of lighter-than-air human transportation, which could save us a bundle in oil and environmental costs,” Willis said. “Helium is too costly and scarce for this to happen on a mass scale, but hydrogen is nearly free and could likely win back public trust if proven safe in other applications first.”
His H2 Transport design idea recently won a Tech Titans science competition in Salt Lake City for best engineering idea. For being a winner he was invited to the Sorenson Inventors showcase where he presented his work and ideas to investors, business leaders and individuals from the office of Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.
He is already testing a design for the next Tech Titans competition project that takes electricity out of the atmosphere to produce large amounts of hydrogen gas at little or no cost.
Although his interest in engineering began when he was a young boy, he credits his success to his father, an Arizona farmer, for being a true engineer, inventor and an inspiration to him.
Willis is appreciative to UVU for giving him the opportunity to receive an education while working around his busy schedule. He started at UVU when it was a community college by taking a few classes a semester since he was busy raising his family and working on his businesses and ideas.
“UVU helps me keep up with my life-long love of learning,” he said. “I have become good friends with many of my professors. I don’t suppose you get that at other schools.”
Willis owns several businesses in Orem including a software programming company and a data-scraping business. His hobbies include snowboarding, composing music and creative writing. He resides in Orem with his wife and four children.