Skip to main content

2019 Student Experiences

Summer 2019 Immersions

ETHOS students spent the summer of 2019 across the globe, across the country, and right here in Dayton, working with our partners. Check out where our students were immersed and what projects they worked on. 

Change and Be Changed in Kaseye, Malawi
Claire, mechanical engineering, and Jackie, civil engineering, worked with Change and Be Changed in Kaseye, Malawi on year two of a five-year road improvement plan in a rural area. They designed and implemented  eleven different test sections in the ditches on the side of the road using locally available resources and materials with the goal of analyzing which material is best at stopping erosion and keeping water off of the road.  “This experience changed my life. It opened my eyes to how other cultures celebrate life and has guided me in my career path. I will never forget my ETHOS immersion,” says Claire.
Engineers in Action in LaPaz, Bolivia
Sean, a mechanical engineering major, and Natalie, a chemical engineering major, worked with Engineers in Action (EIA) in LaPaz, Bolivia. They completed preliminary data collection and design work for an irrigation system in rural Bolivia. Other activities included water flow measurements, water and soil chemical samples, topographic surveying, and collecting the community’s crop and land usage data. “Working with EIA was an all-encompassing experience. We got to immerse ourselves in the community and work side-by-side with community members,” says Natalie.
Funprobo in LaPaz, Bolivia
Ellen and Michael, both mechanical engineering majors, spent their summer working with Funprobo, an organization that makes prosthetic limbs in LaPaz, Bolivia. They assisted in producing prosthetic limbs, specifically through creating and assembling molds and feet, and through promoting the organization on social media. “Working at Funprobo taught me how engineering can impact way more than one person,” says Michael. In addition, Ellen states that “working at Funprobo provided me with a transformed view of engineering, the world, and the human race."
Watch a three-part documentary that follows Ellen and Michael's experience working with Funprobo in La Paz, Bolivia.
Determined to Develop in Chilumba, Malawi
Lindsey, a mechanical engineering major, and Baylor, a civil engineering major, worked with Determined to Develop, a nonprofit focused on community-developed solutions in Chilumba, Malawi. Lindsey and Baylor created master site plans for a boys and girls secondary school and for a technical college. Through collaboration with two UD professors and one professional in the field, they also developed a water system design for the school. “This was a life changing experience,” says Lindsey, “I learned about an entirely different culture while growing my technical engineering skills. This experience pushed me to better myself and grow as a person.”
The Peru Foodbank in Lima, Peru
Katie spent her summer working with the Banco de Adimentos de Peru (the Peru Foodbank) in Lima, Peru. At the foodbank, Katie learned about the many food security challenges that different countries face. Katie traveled to the local farmer’s market to collect food, and also traveled to a poorer area of the country, Huancavelica, to distribute donations. About her experience, Katie says, “Living with a host family was the highlight of my time in Peru and enriched my experience so much. There are so many elements of the culture that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.”
SELCO in Bangalore, India
Victoria, a mechanical engineering major, a spent the summer in Bangalore, India, with the Solar Electric Light Foundation (SELCO). She worked on a solar panel light and sound repeller to safely repel elephants from farms and villages to reduce human/elephant conflict. She also tested different lights and interior materials for a screen printing box to make the exposure time more energy and time efficient. “My ETHOS experience was the most eye-opening and humbling experience of my life. Fully immersing myself has truly made me grow and see the world in a different light,” says Victoria.  
Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont

Morgan, a chemical engineering major, spent his summer at the Rich Earth Institute, which studies making fertilizer from human urine. He has this to say about his domestic immersion: "My experience with the Rich Earth Institute really opened my eyes to problems that exist in our day to day lives without us even realizing they were problems. By working with waste management practices, I learned about the inefficiencies and dangerous practices in our waste disposal. While the stigma around waste may exist, it is important we break down those walls to address the problems with our infrastructure and waste disposal so we can take better care of our water resources. Being with a small non-profit like the Rich Earth Institute allowed me to see how community engagement can be achieved on a local and personal level with appropriate feedback from the collaborators working with us. Nearly everybody in Brattleboro appreciates and reveres the surrounding ecosystem, so it was encouraging to see people come together to work towards a common goal with passion and perseverance."

Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont
While spending the summer at Rich Earth Institute, Katie, a civil and environmental engineering major,  worked on creating a reliable way to determine the nitrogen content in urine. The nitrogen in urine can be lost through ammonia volatilization. By creating conditions that encourage volatilization in an airtight container, Katie was able to capture and measure the amount of ammonia in urine. This project gives Rich Earth insight on how much nitrogen is lost from urine that has been stored in different conditions. In addition, Katie worked with biochar, a type of charcoal used as a soil amendment. Based on the source material, biochar has properties that make it good at absorbing different chemicals. Using biochar with urine could help decrease the smell of the fertilizer and reduce the amount of nitrogen that is lost during application. In addition, Katie worked with the community and shared information on the benefits of using urine as fertilizer. “Working at Rich Earth allowed me to combine my passions or service, community involvement, sustainability, and engineering,” says Katie.
Aprovecho Research Center in Cottage Grove, Oregon

Gunaseharan and Craig, graduate mechanical engineering students, and Maggie, a chemical engineering major, spent their summer at the Aprovecho Research Center in Cottage Grove, Oregon. Together, they worked to better understand how smoke from a cookstove distributes itself inside a model test kitchen, resulting in a novel understanding of vertical particulate matter (PM) stratification within a kitchen and it's dependency upon air exchange rate. This novel understanding will act to actively challenge the current basis for World Health Organization (WHO) indoor air quality requirements, which prescribe health goals for cookstoves based on the false assumption that all smoke (or PM) is evenly distributed throughout the kitchen. In addition, Gunaseharan and Maggie worked to confirm the robustness of newly implemented International Organization for Standardization (ISO) testing procedures for cookstoves, ensuring that if properly followed, the ISO testing procedures would consistently result in accurate data.

Blue Rock Station in Philo, Ohio
Nicholas, a mechanical engineering major, spent a transformative summer living at Blue Rock Station in Philo, Ohio. “I learned skills like cooking, carpentry, green building techniques, healing, self respect, and so much more. Through the experience I also learned a lot about sustainable living. Not only how they live sustainably on the farm, but also how I can translate that in the way I live on campus. I learned about the true cost of food and many other products, and how I can consume responsibly,” says Nicholas. He also states that “I created value in a way I have not known before. A lot of the value I created was unseen, but made a sizeable difference. Every day I would sweep up the goat droppings and add it to the compost pile. This would allow for more microbes and biodiversity to flood the area and it made the soil richer. This created value in the soil, which created value in the food which in turn brought the value right back to me. It was powerful for me to see this complete cycle right before my eyes.”
Burn Design Lab in Vashon, Washington

Susan, a mechanical engineering graduate student, spent her summer on Vashon Island in Washington State helping Burn Design Lab with the Plancha Improvement Project.  Nearly 2.5 million households cook using firewood in Guatemala. Many use pots over open fires in their house, while others have rustic plancha stoves made from salvaged materials or even built into the side of the house with mud. Open fires and rustic plancha stoves are highly fuel inefficient. Susan worked on design modifications to improve the efficiency and the ease of using the plancha stove. She also helped with testing the Mediana plancha stove prototype to calculate the particulate matter emissions and carbon monoxide emissions. She also worked on changing the designs to reduce these emissions.

Co-op Dayton in Dayton, Ohio
Jada, an industrial engineering technology major, spent the summer working at Co-op Dayton on employee ownership manufacturing surveys. Jada worked with the team to use different methods of surveying to obtain the most effective response rate from area manufacturing companies about whether they are interested in the co-op model of employee ownership. She was also able to use her engineering skills to improve the surveying process and lead the project. When asked about her experience, Jada stated, “This experience helped me to apply my technical skills I receive through my major and use it to better my community. I was able to learn the importance of employee ownership and how small changes can better the bigger picture."
Homefull in Dayton, Ohio
“I consider this summer to be my first true professional engineering experience," says Jack, a chemical engineering major who spent his summer working for Homefull’s urban farm, cultivating produce from seed to harvest. "I knew nothing about gardening going into this, much less growing things to sell on the market. Getting hands-on practice and being able to watch my sprouts grow became very rewarding," he says. Once a week, Jack worked on an engineering project to improve some aspect of the farming process, which led to the creation of a rain garden bed. Now the water is poured into two barrels, and the water is absorbed and slowly drained by the plants. Jack states that "this led to the satisfying conclusion of my time this summer, realizing I designed something that made a positive impact on the farm, even if it is relatively minor, and contributed to the greater good.” 
Mission of Mary Cooperative in Dayton, Ohio
During her ETHOS Dayton immersion at Mission of Mary Cooperative, Jaime, an electrical engineering major, worked on various projects that aim to improve the resilience of the Twin Towers neighborhood and educate the community on sustainable living and energy awareness. One project was to collect and analyze energy consumption and solar generation data as part of an energy access initiative. Another project was an educational energy kiosk that will be utilized to educate the community on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and the importance of energy awareness. These projects allowed Jaimie to analyze and interpret energy data in new and different ways. Another challenge was to find connections between the energy data collected in the past and the new data collected through the educational energy kiosk. These projects created value for Mission of Mary Cooperative and the Twin Towers neighborhood by educating community members about energy in order to improve their energy behavior and reduce their environmental impact.
The Foodbank, Inc. in Dayton, Ohio
Kate, a mechanical engineering major, spent her summer immersion in the urban garden at The Foodbank.  Her work included all activities involved in growing produce, such as planting, watering, weeding, laying drip wire, working on the hydroponics system, and showing people around the garden. “Some of the projects that I got to work on included redesigning their hydroponics system and putting designs into solidworks. Overall, The Foodbank is an amazing organization and an even better place to work!” says Kate.
The Dome in Springfield, Ohio
Sam, a chemical engineering major, spent his summer at The Dome, working with local children and teens in the Makerspace, YouMedia, John Legend Theater, ReCycle Bike Program, wood shop, and the welding shop. In the Makerspace, he and a fellow ETHOS student created and led three-week long summer STEM camps for students in grades k-8. He also worked with local high-school students to create a cornhole scoreboard, a t-shirt cannon, and a 3-D printer. For the ReCycle Bike Program, he prepped and painted 40 bikes black. The kids in the bike program will choose a bike based on size, not style, and will receive colored tires to make the bike their own.

The ETHOS Center, Kelly Bohrer, Director

Kettering Laboratories
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0212

Apply for an ETHOS Opportunity

Click here for information on and applications for international, domestic, and local immersions and breakouts

ETHOS Opportunities & Applications