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Industry Person of the Week – Kevin Simon

Engineering & Design
Kevin Simon waters some vegetables with Siddheswar, a farmer collaborating with Khethworks.

Industry Person of the Week – Kevin Simon

It is wonderful to see peers nominate each other! Our Industry Person of the Week is Kevin Simon, and here is what he had to share!

Q. How did you get started working in the industry?

Kevin: I started working on pumps for a class project in graduate school. We were tasked with sizing a solar pump system for using drip irrigation in small plot farms in India. After the class was finished, our team decided to keep working on that project in our spare time. I had the freedom to do so because of my advisors, Alex Slocum and Oli DeWeck, and my fellowship with the Tata Center at MIT. Eventually solar pump design became the focus of my Master’s thesis; Ph.D. thesis; and a startup that I co-founded. After grad school, I joined Watts Water as a research engineer.

Q. What is your favorite part of your job? What are you most proud of?

Kevin: How interesting and relevant my work at Watts Water is. I’ve found that there is a lot of good work to do, and (relatively) low-hanging technological fruit in the water industry. Especially with the modern explosion in instrumentation, communication, manufacturing, prototyping, and simulation methods, there is no shortage of opportunities. I am most proud of my thesis work on progress cavity pump design. I am very excited by the potential for progressive cavity pumps to enable more efficient water management, and believe that my thesis represents a small, but real, step towards that goal.

Q. What advice would you give to someone new to the industry?

Kevin: Never be afraid to ask questions and really ‘dig into’ why something happens a certain way. Pumps are complicated pieces of machinery, made with knowledge spanning a wide range of disciplines over many years. That said, I believe that there are more elegant answers to pump questions out there than most people would believe.

Q. Can you tell us about a cool project you worked on?

Kevin: I worked with Katie Taylor and Victor Lesniewski to get Khethworks, a solar irrigation startup, off the ground in 2015. We wanted to develop a high efficiency, low-cost solar pump to help small-plot farmers irrigate year round, enabling them to have more control over their livelihoods. Over the course of dozens of field visits, and dozens of prototypes in the lab, we have run multiple pilots of our system in farms in different states across India. I’m just an advisor to the team now. They moved to India when I started my Ph.D., but it has been fun and inspiring to work with the team as they drive towards their first pilot manufacturing run this summer and fall.

Kevin repairs a field unit for Nurnabi, another farmer working with Khethworks.

Thank you, Kevin, for being our Industry Person of the Week and for your awesome work abroad! We look forward to keeping up with you through the #PumpTalk Community!

Know an Amazing Person who is making valuable contributions within Industry? Nominate them to be a “Person of the Week”!

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