Leslie Thompson goes to school in eastern Oregon where nearby mountains draw backpackers from all over the place and smoke from forest fires sometimes cloud the summer sky. He came up with the idea for a backpack that would negate the need for starting camp fires and built Team Dream, the InventOR finalist team from Eastern Oregon University, around the invention.
Catch up with Leslie as he tells us about his team, his inspiration, and the ways in which the pack could serve a greater need than just at the campsite.
1. What is your invention?
My invention is a camping backpack that can be utilized to cook or warm food. The back pack will be battery operated, so there will be no need to go through the challenges of starting a fire.
2. Where did you get the inspiration for your invention idea?
I got the inspiration by having an awareness of my location. Being that we are in Oregon, I
wanted to focus on something that would benefit those that partake in outdoor activities. Fires
have been an issue in the Pacific Northwest as well as California. Taking away the need to
depend on a camping fire can drastically reduce the risk of starting these fires that end in
millions of dollars of damage. This back pack plays a part in reducing the need for camp fires.
3. As you prepare to pitch your invention to judges, what are you most excited about sharing?
I am most excited to be able to showcase the actual prototype. I am also excited to share the
other applications that this pack can be used for as well as the potential that it holds.
4. Who are your invention heroes?
My invention heroes are Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Thomas L. Jennings. (Editor's note: if you haven't heard about Jennings, he's an amazing inventor and abolitionist who used the proceeds from a patent on his method of dry cleaning to buy the freedom of his enslaved family members.)
5. Tell us about your team. How did you connect with one another and how do you work
Our team is one that is well rounded, with backgrounds in chemistry, business and art major.
Joy Rong is completing her MBA at EOU. She was more than willing to bring her expertise
to team dream and make contributions toward our success. Darin Hauner who is studying
chemistry agreed to assist where he can with any technical advice during the creation of the
prototype. Damian Garcia was brought along to assist with the design of the backpack itself and me, Leslie Thompson, founder of the Elemental Pack. I was able to bring Team Dream together under the vision of creating the elemental backpack prototype.
6. What is the most important thing you want the judges to understand about your invention —
what will set you apart from the competition?
I would like the judges to understand that although this prototype is currently focused on camping, it has a potential that scales greater than that. Eventually, this technology can be integrated into smaller packs that can be used for everyday use, briefcases and even used to assist those that cannot heat food in less fortunate countries. The vision for this prototype is great, as time continues, it would only be made more efficient, more useful and less costly. It is my hope that I would allow the judges to see my vision.
Check out Team Dream's pack and 21 other prototypes at the InventOR Finals on June 28 at Portland State University's Viking Pavilion.