When you match true nobility with an innovative mind, the light for the future gleams undeniably bright. Most windows in the withstanding homes surviving in Ukraine have been shattered by the sonic vibrations that ripple the air after explosions, leaving inhabitants shivering in sub zero temperatures, damp and darkness. Harry Houston, with a complete genius-esque foresight, designed, built, and is now installing on mass, a temporary shatterproof – fit it yourself – window for liberated areas.
The new life saving non for profit Insulate Ukraine is driven by the concrete force of honest love for mankind. Mr Houston is a PhD student at Cambridge University, England, with one of the most modern approaches to moral engineering we have seen this decade.
Harry put his studies on pause to travel to the Polish border providing aid where he received first hand information from a trusted friend deeper into the country about the living conditions people were left to suffer with.
“He said to me that it’s beginning to get really cold. Lots of people have smashed windows and there’s no way to insulate them. And I just thought that there was something we could do about it. About three weeks after we got started working on it.”
“People were doing what they could, but a lot of the solutions were rudimentary, single layer. Some people were using hemp sacks, polystyrene, carpets, cardboard. Whatever they could get their hands on that would act as a windbreak, and often that left the houses cold and dark.”
With winter making a hurried approach and a true inventor at heart, Harry returned to the UK into a fast paced development rush to design an effective window. Taking the customers’ every need with as much consideration, love and care as possible, to give them a safe and sturdy solution that would improve and survive the duration of the war, not be a shabby ‘just good enough’ job.
“I mean, that will do something. But it’s just so far away from what can be done for a cheap amount of money. And that’s really what we’ve tried to look at, for a very low cost, what is the best thing we can produce?”
What they produced……
……is so cleverly thought out it’s simply incredible. All in all it takes about 15 minutes to build, even if you’re a first timer. At $28.40 per square metre [15 British pounds] the 4 materials are cheap and easy to obtain. Duct tape, pvc pipe, pipe insulation [think swimming noodle but a lot more dense] and some stabilised polyethylene [which is the same stuff as your shopping bags, detergent and drinks bottles are made out of].
Working with these limited resources, Harry and his team crafted 4 layers of insulation boasting better results than traditional double glazing. It can be cut to fit any size and allows the sunlight to dance its rays peacefully into the home at last. As well as raising temperatures from life threatening sub zero to a comfortable snug level, giving people back the light in their homes has boosted general morale and brought hopeful smiles back to the people who have lost so much.
“I love getting a problem in front of me and tweaking with the solution.” Harry beams broadly at the thought. “Figuring it out and then eventually getting to that point where you’re like oh, it’s just something that works. I think all the way up to the stage of knowing that it works and it’s in people’s houses. That is actually the MVP stage. That’s my sweet spot.”
In years to come this moment will be remembered and reflected on as a model. Harry’s ethics are as pure as a fresh cloud on a bright spring day and his words embody the echo of wildly successful businessmen before him.
“We don’t want to stop just when something is good enough when we can make it as good as possible. And that’s a really important approach a lot of the time on the humanitarian side. A good example is the UN, the World Food Programme box. They do a fantastic job giving everyone these boxes however, I’d say that they lack a certain element of care. It’s not just about survival. People are able to survive because they can eat wood or just eat porridge oats or something like that and still survive for a long time. You want the best you possibly can have with the resources you have. They might have to live with these windows for eight years so they need to be done with care.”
The non for profit Insulate Ukraine was formed and gained the attention from businesses such as the Rotary, British foreign office, BPL Global and more all open to contributing towards the history unfolding fantastically before our eyes.
To capture the majesty of the young innovators’ determination to provide an improved living state for an entire country is truly a blissful process. Insulate Ukraine is now reaching an average of fitting 500 windows a week. With the ‘teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime’ mentality, Harry and his team released step by step instruction videos teaching people in the towns how to build and fit the windows themselves. Now whether his charity is present or not, people can still construct themselves to a suitable temporary solution. The reactions…… outstanding.
Playing with the explanation of calculus as if it were a reading from a poetic romance novel, the in depth care that has been funnelled into the design of this window is undeniably inspiring at the bare minimum.
Mustering the energy to revamp the humanitarian world with an engineer’s ethical eye, Insulate Ukraine is welcoming expansion upon security to further their reach within the thermal envelope.
“Maybe just seeing if we can rethink the solutions that have been produced already because the solutions are good for heating. I don’t think anyone’s thinking it’s outside of the box to see if there’s any other way of approaching the problems. Something that might be resistant to either reducing the cost significantly and using different processes to see what other solutions exist rather than just ‘how can we do the best job’ which is basically what everyone does.
But I think for our scenario, first of all, we can’t just go and just solve it by burning loads of fuel and finding some very cheap fuel source that does it. That wouldn’t be a good idea, we’re not reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by doing these things like that, but we are improving the energy efficiency of atoms and that in itself is a very important thing.” He continues to explain his visionary growth.
I want to see us be able to do that to a larger range of low income properties in the future, actually to increase energy and fit. A lot of your gas savings can be produced by increasing energy efficiency, particularly in countries where energy is cheap. But insulation is expensive. And that is a lot of the developing world.”
One of the most precious things to be in life is to be a passionate teacher. To pass on knowledge with energy and open up windows undreamt of once upon a time. Harry is eagerly teaching the world how to literally save households from freezing temperatures, cut down on fuel burn out, and even regulate the hot temperatures. This could revolutionise the survival rate of war victims. Too boss up a level higher, the mathematics arena is also being revolutionised by transferring the bold passion and clarity that keeps him spell bound to the subject.
Growing up wearing the curious cap searching for answers to satisfy a mind revelling with quiz, Harry approaches with open mindedness grace, a subject that makes most of us aggressively itch all over.
“I do find it a really beautiful way of looking at the world. You know, you look at something. If you manage to understand something mathematically, it transcends language. You can also get an understanding of the world which you just fundamentally cannot get through talking or through writing it down. It’s very, very difficult to describe some elements of the world without the use of that language of maths as a language and that is why I like it. It opens up the possibility of describing phenomena that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to access.”
Pinning dry education as the culprit for an apprehensive society, he allocates his spare time to undergrads at Cambridge natural scientists mathematical, to break that bad connection and re-teach them beyond the points of flustered panic attacks and blind confusion, into an open universe of possibility.
“I mean really people hate maths. It’s to confront that, then once you’re willing, to see if you can try and find joy. I think there’s very few people who won’t find some sort of joy in it. Because it does eventually, once you stop approaching it from such a confined perspective that it’s normally taught from, then it becomes an incredibly enjoyable topic.”
Harry Blakiston Houston is single handedly merging suffering worlds with the light. His compassion and desire for dignified survival is mighty. A mind engulfed in such wonder, that sharing it with the world is a gift for the rest of us.
The war is not close to being over and nor is the impact of Insulate Ukraines frugal yet effective creations. To donate towards the fast growing, life saving enterprise, click here, spread the word, and Harry will leave you with this beautiful parting that will provoke a new choice making system that would benefit all.
“Essentially, I think engineers often if you ask them what they want to do, they want to have an impact on people. They do care fundamentally about people. It’s just the tools that they have at their disposal to end up helping people are slightly different to most others. Often maybe people who work more in the humanitarian world will be good ‘people’ people. But engineers tend to be good ‘things’ people. The reason that we’ve ended up choosing these problems to work on it’s not because they’re good problems to work on. It’s because it essentially comes down to following the path that contains more love.
You’re always confronted with various crossroads in life. And when making a choice like this, which I am still having to make on a daily basis between going and pursuing something that would be more lucrative that would that would that would be better for my bank account at the current moment, or choosing a path in life which comes with its difficulties, but actually contains a lot more happiness. The joy is going into some of these places and serving people who are in need of help and acting purely out of love.
I think it’s funny because it’s something that is captured in a lot of different areas. of culture, but it’s never really entered the engineering field. You get people like John Lennon singing about this sort of stuff. But you also get Pope Francis at the moment in the Christian faith there’s a lot of talking about love. It tends to have hit sort of the art spaces, writing spaces, musical spaces, religious facets, but it’s never hit engineering. And I think that’s why. We want to try and bring an element working on problems that contain more love into the equation. I think that engineers have a very large role to play in the world that we’ve got at the moment because there are problems and a lot of those problems have to be created by engineers in many ways. Harry laughs bashfully.
I think it’s where they’ve been made possible by anything created that has been made possible by scientists and engineers and things like that. So we’ve got a responsibility to work in a way that helps fix. To work whether it be a love for humanity, a love for the environment, a love for whatever it is. Sometimes it might be a love for maths. I think the one thing that maybe I would say that people should be careful of is when love for the material gets too much because if it’s a love for money, then I think we’ve probably already done that. We’ve seen it leads to maybe some happiness for individuals, but I think pursuing love is the way to move forwards with invention.”