Jeff Houkal is trained as an engineer, with a focus on science and mechanics. But his love for weed stoked the fire of invention, presenting him with the perfect opportunity to create the perfect bowl – the Invincibowl – a seemingly invincible bowl for bongs, made to last a lifetime.
After receiving an Associate degree in Engineering in 1997 at Bellevue Community College, he then earned a degree in Applied Sciences in engineering in 2004; and went on to garner a Bachelor of Sciences in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington in 2006.
As an inventor, Houkal holds seven patents, but feels he’s been inventing his entire life. When a removable skateboard wheel failed to get to market, the experience taught him that navigating the business end of inventing was key to the future of getting his creations in the hands of others.
“My wife, Gloria, isn’t co-inventor of the Invincibowl, but she was the genesis and inspiration,” he explained. “After she broke three glass bowls in one month the inventor in me was driven to find a solution.”
After Houkal conceived the idea for an indestructible bowl on paper in 2019, he sent it to a friend with a machine shop who manufactured the prototype.
“The prototype design was validated for mechanical accuracy, fit, form and function; modifying some of the dimensions slightly to provide a more accurate fit. Then my wife and I began the tedious process of testing it with cannabis,” he laughed. “We were so pleased, and it worked so well, the idea of marketing it became a reality.”
The bowl fits into standard (14 mm) bongs. Made from aluminum, it’s said to be able to sustain a fall from 10 feet onto a solid surface. The stainless steel insert is said to have the same thermal capacity as glass. A screen is suggested, significantly reducing material typically deposited into the bong water, giving a cleaner smoking experience.
The Inventor’s High
Houkal said he smoked a little in high school, but he didn’t respond to it in a positive way, as his friends had.
“After a short stint in high school I abandoned it as a social indulgence,” he said “Then, a couple of years ago, my wife was smoking and I tried it again. It felt a bit weird, but I eventually overcame my hesitation and nervousness toward the altered state. I began to discover things about myself, as well as developing different concepts and ideas that pleased me, both creatively and intelligently.”
Houkal said he doesn’t remember if the Invincibowl concept was inspired during one of these sessions, but it’s highly likely.
“I don’t consider myself a cannabis patient, because I can function and survive without cannabis, but the plant definitely contributes to my creative development as an Inventor and Engineer,” he said. “I find myself thinking more deeply, consume books at a rapid pace. But, if I smoke anything above 18 to 20 percent THC, I get non-functionally high. Sometimes I like that, but most of the time I’d rather be actively engaged with what I’m doing.”
An Inventive Stash
Houkal’s stash is that of an engineer, complete with a journal full of engineering notes, ideas for gadgets yet to come, and the now historic Invincibowl concept.
“My notebook was first acquired on December 20, 2005, as noted on the first entry,” he said. “It’s full of half-cooked projects and ideas for new inventions. I love my journal and my journaling pen, and use them every day. I get stupidly excited when I completely use all of the ink, without losing the pen.”
A caliper is an unlikely component of the average partaker’s stash, but Houkal said it’s a must for any mechanical engineer.
“I’ve had these calipers for about 15 years,” he shared. “They are engraved, poorly, with my name – that’s how serious I am about my calipers! Beyond measuring physical items, they also help me scale stuff as I am musing some creation. The cool sliding sound of the micro-gear running along the pinion is a relaxing past-time.”
The headset is a more recent addition, as becoming CEO of Invincibowl his phone time was increased substantially, requiring grown-up tools for communications.
“Cannabis allows me to focus on the person I’m with, making me a better communicator,” he surmised. “It relieves stress, that’s a given, but it also helps me focus on the present. I’m much more receptive to ideas, and can pick-up on other’s emotions and/or point of view – which comes in handy, both as an inventor and as a husband.”
The treasure chest is full of a low THC Sativa flower, his preference. The exceptionally clean bong is a current go-to, and holds a blue Invincibowl, the Poseidon; with another, Sundown, in copper.
“The final addition to my stash was made by my wife, Gloria, two years ago – when she was still my girlfriend,” he said, lovingly. “She’s a constant source of inspiration. The lightbulb reminds me to think critically and creatively. Whenever I’m stuck on a problem, I look over at the bulb and know that I have a wellspring of support from someone who believes I can tackle any problem, no matter how complex.”