PhilaU Alumni: Problem-Solving Innovation for the Developing World

Philadelphia University is a student-centered institution that prepares graduates for successful careers in an evolving global marketplace.

This is our mission statement, and we are proud of what it says about the Philadelphia University family… students, faculty, alumni, staff, and industry partners.

Our students and graduates breathe life into our mission statement.  They fulfill our promise of preparing our students for professional careers and leadership, and they deliver on that promise through real-world innovation and collaboration.  They give our mission statement meaning because they are changing the world.


Aaron Stathum (’12) and Eliot Coven (’12) are PhilaU industrial design alumni who understand and embrace the global 21st century marketplace.  They know that innovation must reach all corners of the world, serving both the simple and the complex.

Turning their attention to the needs of the developing world, they recognized that a task that is fairly simple in the Western world – doing laundry – is difficult and time-consuming in the developing world.  Those responsible for washing clothes must haul a heavy load to the river, soaking and scrubbing it, wringing it out, and carrying it back to be hung out to dry.  The process is difficult, time consuming, and ecologically damaging.  Also, because of these harsh washing conditions, clothing is less durable.

Aaron and Eliot set to the task of problem-solving.  They created an innovative washing system for the developing world that is inexpensive, convenient, and easily constructed with common materials.  These materials cost less than $20 at a hardware store.

The result was Up-Stream Washing, a portable, manually-operated washing system that is far less time-consuming for the washer, gentler on the clothes, does a more thorough job, and is less harmful to the environment.  The washing system is an innovative, inexpensive solution to a common problem in the developing world.

Aaron and Eliot’s efforts have attracted people’s attention.  They were invited to be panel members at the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference this past April.  They have also caught the attention of G-Shock watches and are now being featured in their national ad campaign.

Aaron and Eliot embody the PhilaU mission with their real-world application of problem-solving innovation.  We are very proud of them.

We are excited to see what they do next.


To take a look at Eliot’s website featuring the product, click here.

View G-Shock’s video advertisement featuring Aaron and Eliot discussing their project:

RESPECT X G-SHOCK Present- Aaron & Eliot from RESPECT. Magazine on Vimeo.

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