The founder of Scottsdale-based Zero Mass Water and an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Arizona State University, Friesen developed SOURCE Hydropanels to address one of the globe’s most pressing challenges: water scarcity.

Friesen donated the prize to a Zero Mass Water project with Conservation International to provide Hydropanels to the Bahía Hondita community in Colombia.

The Hydropanels also can be found in aboriginal communities in Australia and an orphanage for Syrian refugees in northern Lebanon; in desert regions in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, where concerns over a global water shortage grow more intense; and someday in Flint, Michigan, where residents are still grappling with a five-year-old water crisis.

“If we could do for water what solar does for electricity,” he said, “We could fundamentally shift the axis of the planet and improve the human condition with respect to water.”

Across the U.S., SOURCE Hydropanels have been installed in schools where aging pipes have leached unsafe levels of lead into drinking water, forcing administrators to shut off water fountains.

In Phoenix, for example, the Pendergast Elementary School District’s partnership with Zero Mass Water is part of the district’s commitment to sustainability programs as well as expansion of a robust science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics curriculum.

At Copper King Elementary School, where about 10 panels were installed two years ago, students use their own reusable containers to get water from a SOURCE-fed dispenser outside the STEAM lab.