Star athlete engineers off-field success

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 - 14:29

Perhaps the best athlete in Eagle River High School history also happens to be a bona fide nerd.

“I’ve got two tests tomorrow,” said Ed Hall, a junior mechanical engineering major at the University of Idaho, during a Monday interview from the school’s Moscow campus. “It’s pretty rigorous.”

Hall starred in multiple sports at Eagle River, racking up all-conference accolades on the gridiron despite never playing for a winning team. As a high school senior, Hall won the discus and shot put titles at the state track meet and took third at the state wrestling tournament. After walking on as a nonscholarship player at Idaho, he earned a football scholarship and eventually a starting linebacker spot, making five solo tackles in the Vandals’ surprising 61-50 win in the Alberston’s Bowl last December.

“We just got our rings today,” said the 2014 ERHS grad.

But those accomplishments pale in comparison to Hall’s work in the classroom, where he’s among Idaho’s brightest engineering students. He proved that earlier this month when he and three other Idaho undergraduate entrepreneurs won $10,000 in start-up money for their invention, an innovative shower Hall said can save people as much as $400 per year on their heating bills.

“It will eliminate a lot of your over-the-top water usage,” Hall said.

The shower is designed to cut the average water usage for a family of four by 21,000 gallons of water per year. That’s a big deal, especially for people who tend to linger in the shower.

“The EPA average shower is eight minutes,” Hall said. “Well, I know many people that take showers a lot longer than eight minutes — including myself.”

Although the team can’t divulge specifics of its design (Hall said the final product is still being tweaked and the team has yet to secure all its patents), the “Forever Shower” was impressive enough to merit first place in the Health and Healthy Living category at the Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge March 30-31 in Boise. The team also picked up $2,000 for a second-place finish at the Idaho Pitch Competition back in Moscow. In addition to other money they’ve received, the team now has a sizable sum to help move the product forward.

“Right now we’re up to $12,750,” he said.

In addition to saving on heating costs, Hall said the Forever Shower also filters out carcinogens known as trihalomethanes, which he said is associated with childhood cancers.

Hall said design is the brainchild of fellow College of Engineering student Chad Vorse. Hall said he got involved with the four-person design team through a bit of serendipity. He said his roommate, Alex Boatman, had a class with Vorse and his wife, Maria Horta-Vorse. The trio was working on the Forever Shower idea, but needed additional engineering expertise. Enter Hall.

“They were throwing around the idea and Chad said he needed a mechanical engineer,” he said. “Lucky for me I just happened to be [Boatman’s] roommate.”

Hall said he jumped at the chance to join a team — despite having spring football practice to prepare for.

“I was all for it,” he said.

The team is currently working to streamline its design into a portable prototype it can take to trade shows. The prototype is currently “bulky,” meaning Hall and the others will have to put their engineering skills to use.

That’s fine with Hall, who said he plans a career as a mechanical engineer after he graduates. Ideally, he said he’d like to find a job where he can combine his two passions.

“I’d like to do something where I can combine football and my mechanical engineering degree,” he said.

That could mean helping to design safety equipment to help make the sport safer.

“That’s my dream job,” he said.

Hall will continue to work on the Forever Shower with his engineering teammates even has he wraps up spring ball with the Vandals. Once he completes his finals, he said he’ll return to Eagle River for about a month before heading back to Idaho to prep for the upcoming season. With a bowl game win under their belt, he said the team has its sights set even higher.

“We want to win a Sun Belt (Conference) championship,” he said.

Balancing classes, his entrepreneurial endeavor and football might seem like a daunting challenge for the talented Mr. Hall, but it’s one the easygoing Eagle River native said he embraces.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s some hard work, but it’s been fun, too.”

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