Members of our ASH community, both locally and globally, push the boundaries of innovation every day. Recently we caught up with alum Mike Sheiman to whom innovation means pushing the boundaries of renewable energy sources and intertwining them with everyday life - taking a passion for living sustainably to the next level.
Mike’s story and passion start at ASH, where his typical “Dutch” life of riding his bike the 6.5km journey to school laid the foundation for his future sustainable energy projects. In general his life in the Netherlands was the catalyst for a lifelong commitment to a relatively minimalist and risk-taking lifestyle. Upon Mike’s graduation from ASH he moved back to the US, where he was determined to take his fundamentalist attachment to nature, political and social diversity, risk, and freedom, and apply it to his daily life. One of his many achievements includes the development of community bike paths for daily commuting in his hometown of Houston, Texas - the result of his many conversations with local homeowner associations and municipal utility districts.
Next, Mike took inspiration from Dutch transportation technology and put this into the engineering of his own sustainable energy vehicles. He dove in with his first idea, a heavy duty street trike, using things he could source easily: a large robotics motor, a high amperage golf cart motor controller, some used electric car batteries, all on a budget of 8,500 euros. His foundation in AP Maths and Physics, plus controller programming and extended physics calculations from his computer science education, gave him an innovative edge in designing something never seen before. The end result... Mike produced an ultralight vehicle (455 Kg) with street legal equipment (tires, steering track) that seats 4 people and can reach speeds of 60km/h - akin to the Polaris Slingshot. Mike found the most satisfying thing about this invention of his, is that it used less than half the energy and cost less than a third of the price of a new production electric car made at the time. He then went on to create the Vectrix VX1 electric motorcycle using lithium batteries, converted from NIMH batteries, serving as his second mode of transportation. Both of these innovative machines are powered by his self-built solar array.
In his own words, Mike says; “ASH left me with a strong impression of what is socially, politically, and technologically not only possible, but increasingly necessary in creating a "less is more" way of life and mutual respect. Holland, and so many I met within it, struck me as an ideal implementation of a ‘no citizen or nature left behind’ society, despite my financial success being nothing special, it prompted me to push toward showing what is possible to America. In an age where people such as Greta Thunberg are finally starting to emerge into the spotlight, the time to hold hands with nature and each other truly is now. My aim is to show America what ASH and Holland have shown to me.”
A true reflection of innovation in engineering, thinking and living.