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The Ethos R&D Program

Welcome to the Ethos R&D Program

indexpc.png                                Educate. Design. Discover... Together

Ethos R&D immerses teams of undergraduate and graduate students into long-term faculty-mentored Ethos-centric research and design projects. Each project focuses on engineering for the common good and enabling collaborative solutions to societal challenges through the development of just and sustainable technologies and systems using novel and appropriate design practices.

  • Undergraduate students gain marketable research and development skills
  • Graduate students develop key management and leadership skills
  • Faculty members provide technical mentorship — extending the impact of their research 

Want to Learn More?

Students and faculty members can apply to participate in Ethos R&D at any time and in the variety of ways listed below. Note that the student team cohorts launch each fall semester.

Undergraduate students: Apply to join the next cohort of Ethos R&D student teams as a team member! No previous research experience is required. Student team members actively participate on an applied research project while building marketable research and development skills. 

Graduate students: Apply to join the next cohort of Ethos R&D student teams as a team member or manager! No previous research or management experience is required. Student team members actively participate on an applied research project while building marketable research and development skills. Student team managers provide managerial oversight of a student team while developing key management and leadership skills. 

Faculty members: Advance your Ethos-centric research project by submitting a project to start with the next student team cohort. Faculty members provide technical mentorship to the student team supporting their research, while extending the impact of their research. 

The Ethos R&D program provides a mechanism to help faculty members establish, grow, and sustain engineering research and development projects that are Ethos-centric in nature through the use of trans-disciplinary student teams. The participating undergraduate and graduate students can participate in the Ethos R&D program in a variety of ways, finding one that fits their academic and experiential needs and interests. 

Ethos R&D Roles

Student Team Members

Provide technical support in teams of 3 to 4 students to an assigned Ethos R&D project.

  • Commitment to working 2 to 8 hours per week which will count as academic credit selected towards a program of study.
    • Work 2 hours per week, receive 0 credit
    • Work 4 hours per week, receive 1 credit
    • Work 6 hours per week, receive 2 credits
    • Work 8 hours per week, receive 3 credits
  • Undergraduate students register for EGR-398. No other application is needed.
  • Graduate students register using special topics credit. No other application is needed. 
  • Attend periodic cohorted professional development seminars to hear from the experts enabling research and development for the common good

Graduate Managers

Provide managerial oversight of Ethos R&D team(s).

  • Attend research management short course 
  • Commitment to two consecutive semesters of leading an R&D student team
    • Work with faculty mentor to identify semesterly deliverables and associated project schedule towards defined deliverables
    • Providing weekly support of R&D student team during fall and spring semesters (roughly 5 hours per project)
      • Running team meetings
      • Assessment of student deliverables
      • Lab training and support

Faculty Mentor

Primary contact for an Ethos R&D project. 

  • Committing to at least three years of support for the proposed Ethos R&D project and defining the long-term deliverables. 
    • Supporting the graduate manager to define cohort-specific (yearly) scope of work and deliverables
    • Providing technical mentorship for each student team cohort.
    • Publication of project progress with student collaborators

Each project is aligned with one or more of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's). The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are:

SDG 1: No Poverty
SDG 2: Zero Hunger
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
SDG 4: Quality Education
SDG 5: Gender Equality
SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
SDG 13: Climate Action
SDG 14: Life Below Water 
SDG 15: Life on Land
SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

The Ethos R&D Projects available for the next R&D student cohort are:

Solar Thermal Adsorptive Refrigeration (STAR)

Faculty Mentors: Amy Ciric, Chemical Engineering; Li Cao, Chemical Engineering; Jun-Ki Choi, Renewable Clean Energy Engineering

Majors: CME, MAT, MCT, MEE, and RCL

Key Technologies: Refrigeration, adsorption, heat transfer, surface science


Air conditioners and refrigerators use 15% of the world’s electricity, and use fluids that attack the ozone layer or have high warming potentials. Solar thermal adsorptive refrigeration (STAR) is an alternative that runs on heat, not electricity. The UD STAR system uses activated carbon and ethanol; these are safe, environmentally friendly materials that are easy to manufacture, making STAR refrigerators particularly useful in remote and low-income communities. This project will explore the relationship between preparation of the activated carbon and the performance of the refrigerator, exploring how activating the carbon in an oxygen-free environment will change the refrigeration temperature and long-term performance. 

SDG's Supported

SDG 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Learn more about SDG 7

SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Learn more about SDG 13


Transitioning to Non-Plastic Material Use Within the Coastal Zone Economy

Faculty Mentors: Robert Lowe, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Scott Schneider, Engineering Management, Systems, and Technology

Majors: MEE, MCT, CEE, and CME/MAT

Key Technologies: Natural materials, environmental conditioning of materials, mechanical testing, material property calculations


Materials employed in critical coastal economic sectors are dominated by plastics, contributing to an ever-increasing marine debris problem. Three key coastal economic sectors (aquaculture, restoration, and water quality protection) vital to ecosystem services are of particular concern due to their location within ecologically sensitive and physically harsh environments. Natural materials (e.g., coir, jute, wattle, wood, hemp) have a long history of traditional use in these sectors, but have been displaced by non-biodegradable proprietary alternatives (i.e., plastics and polymer composites) that accumulate and persist in marine and estuarine environments. Currently, it is unknown how natural material alternatives will perform in the unique climate, tidal regime, photo-oxidative, and economic setting of coastal South Carolina. To address this research need, we will quantitatively examine -- through an extensive mechanical testing program -- the performance of candidate natural material alternatives subjected to short-term mesocosm and laboratory exposures representative of in-service marine environments.  Specifically, environmental exposures will condition specimens under various combinations of (a) temperature, (b) moisture, (c) ultraviolet (UV) light, (d) salinity (salt), and (e) surface abrasion (sand).  Mesocosm exposures will take place at the University of South Carolina Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences, and laboratory exposures will take place within environmental and UV-testing chambers housed in the University of Dayton BAMS Lab.  The most promising down-selected natural alternatives will then undergo pilot-scale field testing in collaboration with coastal partners including aquaculture businesses, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, regional municipalities, and private landowners.

SDG's Supported

SDG 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Learn more about SDG 6

SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Learn more about SDG 13

SDG 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Learn more about SDG 14

You can apply to participate in the Ethos R&D Program as an undergraduate student, graduate student, or faculty member.

Student Team Application

It's easy to join an Ethos R&D student team! Any undergraduate or graduate student can be involved. All you have to do is register for the EGR-398 course.  

Graduate Manager Application

Graduate students can apply to join and/or manage an Ethos R&D project team. The application asks for an interest level for each project and a faculty reference if applying for a graduate manager position. We're currently not accepting applications at this timeIf interested, contact Scott Schneider for details.

Graduate Manager Application

Faculty Members

Faculty members can apply to have their Ethos-centric research projects supported by Ethos R&D. If interested, contact Scott Schneider for details.

Faculty Member Application


Scott Schneider, The Ethos Center Professor for Leadership in Community

Kettering Laboratories
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0212