Andrew Rokeby-Thomas

Born in July of 1969, Drew lived in various locations in Kitchener-Waterloo Ontario, then moved to a 100 acre farm in south central ontario at 8.   From an early age Drew was “different”, highly creative and able to self entertain with piles of sticks and bales of hay. At 8 he fixed his mothers sewing machine, and adventures with machines have occupied much of his time ever since.

School got Drew a sound foundation in mathematics and writing, and from there he taught himself, or found others to teach him.   As an autodidact Drew learned woodworking, welding, composites fabrication, and electronics.   As a blacksmith in his 20’s he learned at one of Canada’s longest running and largest blacksmith shops Kootenay Forge, mastering the trade in short order and opening his own shop in Victoria BC.

Owning and operating a small metal work shop specializing in custom forging was a launching point for Drew’s inventive spirit.  Having the skills and infrastructure to build substantial things, Drew designed and built a series of pneumatic forging hammers with a unique control system, simpler and more functional than the commercial equivalents (good enough that his former employer bought one!).   As a blacksmith/fabricator, more and more craftspeople came to Drew to have equipment designed and built.   From lathes and lathe equipment capable of turing 150lb logs into drums, to felting machines that could produce long felts in short spaces, Drew’s inventiveness focused on building machines that would help himself and others.   Before 2007 Drew used much of his spare time and infrastructure on alternative energy research.   First focusing on biomass gasification, his research moved through tensegrity and boat design/wave energy capture.   In 2007, with an oil crisis yet to be solved by hydraulic fracturing (and create a new set of problems), Drew invented a Vertical Axis Wind/Water Turbine (VAWT).   This new turbine was a fusion of one of the most historic VAWT’s, a Savonius, and some new thinking about how it functions, mostly driven by research and thinking of some UBC professors.

The new shape of sustainability