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Dayton Engineer

The Inaugural ETHOS/KEEN Remote Immersion Program

By Megan Shepherd, graduate assistant in the ETHOS Center

The ETHOS Center with the support of the School of Engineering’s KEEN grant from the KERN Family Foundation has implemented the first-ever remote Dayton and domestic immersion program this summer. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, students could not participate in a traditional immersion program over the summer, in which they would engage on-site with a community partner and in some cases live on-site with that partner. However, The School of Engineering’s Director of Community Relations and Acting Director of The ETHOS Center, Kelly Bohrer, sought to provide the students with an opportunity to still engage with community organizations to create positive social change in our world.  

At the beginning of the summer semester, fourteen community partners welcomed 19 student interns who are spending the summer working from home on projects for the community partners in Dayton and across the United States. As part of the program, the KEEN grant is awarding stipends for students as they create modules and presentations to develop the entrepreneurial mindset through community-engaged learning.

Projects include:

  • Creating a solar power plan for the Second Street Market in Dayton with Five Rivers MetroParks.
  • Conducting market research on myco-remediation, the use of fungi to decontaminate soil, for Co-op Dayton.
  • Designing an urban garden space to support and engage - and work alongside - young refugees in the Dayton community with Catholic Social Services.
  • Crafting science, technology, engineering, math, and arts based lessons and videos to be shared virtually to students who are at home for the summer with The Dome in Springfield, Ohio. 
  • Creating teen green-jobs programming in the Twin Towers Neighborhood in Dayton with CleanEnergy4All. 
  • Designing sustainable water catchment and retention systems for household and farming needs for both Bethlehem Farm in West Virginia and Community Solutions (Agraria) in Yellow Springs.
  • Developing a better understanding of the cookstove market, manufacturers, materials, and more with Burn Design in Vashon, Washington. 

In addition, each week students gather together via Zoom to explore topics like entrepreneurially-minded engineering, human-centered design, social justice and engineering, and sustainable development goals. They learn about how to best engage with their community partners and the communities they serve, manage work projects remotely, and critically reflect on current and historical structures that impact or are impacted by engineering.

Accoring to Ken Bloemer, Director of the Visioneering Center, "the ETHOS Center's virtual immersions synergistically develop enginering students' entrepreneurial mindsets, while advancing their abilities to address the grand challenges of our world." The KEEN network frames the entrepreneurial mindset with 3C's: Curiosity, Connections, and Creating Value. Engineering students on ETHOS immersions use these 3C's to engage with local community organizations for addressing the most pressing needs in our community.  

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