Recruiting Undergraduate Researchers for Several Projects

Two people holding a diagram at a dam.

Recruiting Undergraduate Researchers for Several Projects

The humanitarian engineering program is looking for undergraduates to work on several projects:

Multidisicplinary Senior Capstone Design

We are seeking a team of capstone students to switch from the single discipline ME 497 capstone to the pilot multidisciplinary section of ENGR 415 capstone to work on the following project for Winter and Spring 2022. Ideally this team would include mechanical and electrical engineers.

Direct use of DC in residences used in Unhoused camps and remote and disaster areas

Advisor: Dr. Nordica MacCarty, OSU Humanitarian Engineering

Sponsor and Project Mentor: Mike Warwick, Former federal government expert on electric energy issues including markets, end usage, conservation, and renewables for DOD installations.  Currently a consultant in retirement to the Air Force on these same topics.

Problem Statement: PV/battery systems are being adopted as mass market solutions in the developed world at prices near parity with grid power; however, conversion from the PV system’s DC to AC for conventional appliance use results in significant energy losses.  Production of power for AC appliances in areas lacking grid access using conventional generators (fossil fueled) results in further energy losses in that conversion.  Direct use of DC would avoid both.  Demonstrating practicality of this option in a prototype is needed.

Expectations: Demonstrate practical use of DC directly from a source (presumed to be PV/battery system) to provide minimally acceptable energy services for small residential structures (e.g. mini houses for unhoused populations) and remote areas lacking grid access.  Conceptually, the prototype would be a wall mock up with DC powered equipment to facilitate food prep (refrigeration, cooking, and washing) at minimum with potential ancillary use for charging/use of small electronic devices (phones, radios, TVs, etc.)  Ultimately, the mock up “wall” would provide a template for mass production and incorporation in target structures.

Please contact Dr. Nordica MacCarty if interested.


Undergraduate Honors Thesis 

Dr. MacCarty is also seeking an honors student to mentor for a thesis on the topic of 

Emissions Monitoring System: multi-test data analysis and visualization
  • The Aprovecho Laboratory Emissions Monitoring System (LEMS)
    • measures CO2, CO, Particulate matter, methane, and black carbon emissions from cooking and heating stoves
    • is used in 30+ research centers in developing countries around the world
  • The goal of this system is to build capacity for local researchers to design and test improved cooking stoves to replace polluting and dangerous open fires
    • Requires easy-to-learn and use software and analysis tools
  • The honors student will help create user-friendly analysis software that supports:
    • Multi-test analysis and visualization. Integrate data from different test series
    • Statistical analysis of multiple tests. What statistics should we use? How can those be easily implemented in the multi-test analysis tool?
    • Data quality. Development of a post-test data quality review panel to make sure all inputs and calculated values are reasonable and within bounds
  • Qualifications
    • strong coding skills and interest in coding (python or some other open-source platform with good support preferred) 

Mentoring will be by Dr. MacCarty and researchers at Aprovecho Research Center on a timeline that works for the student.


Undergraduate Research Assistant

ThermoElectric Generator for CookStoves

Hydrobee SPC in Seattle is an award-winning startup company that develops new home-scale renewable energy technologies. These include a ThermoElectric Generator (TEG) that makes electricity from heat in stove chimneys and open fires.  Now we are inventing a new TEG that will make power from improved cookstoves to create a tremendous opportunity to help humanity.   About 3 billion people in about 500 million homes cook and heat with biomass stoves.   Most of these are inefficient, creating dangerous indoor smoke and emitting gigatons of avoidable CO2 and noxious gases.  Upwards of 2 million people, mostly women and children, die every year from indoor air pollution.   About a billion also have no or unreliable electricity.   The World Bank estimates that people in developing countries spend over $40 billion a year and millions of hours traveling to charge their phones.  Stoves with TEGs can make power for phones and LED lights and fans that improve combustion in the stoves to burn more efficiently. 

Hydrobee has previously sponsored OSU engineering capstone projects under the direction of Prof. Nordica MacCarty.   Now we seek one undergraduate research assistant to work with Dr. MacCarty and a team of researchers at Aprovecho Research Center to make and assess new TEG configurations on stoves used by off-grid families in Africa.   The research assistant will analyze different materials, components and configurations. This will include basic calculations of heat flux in metals and components, benchtop heat and power measurements, and minor machining.  

Hours:                  4- 8 hours per school week, preferably more.   Approximately 100 total hours

Location:             MIME Shop and potentially Aprovecho Research Center in Cottage Grove, OR

Pay:                       $15 per hour

Duration:            Jan - March 2022 with possible extension / employment

Required Qualifications:

  • OSU junior or senior Mechanical Engineering major
  • Demonstrated self-starter, proactive solution finder
  • At least one year of CAD experience
  • Basic machining, prototyping and electrical skills
  • Good communication skills and engineering practice (documentation, shop etc)
  • Ability/willingness to travel to Cottage Grove, OR to conduct testing

Preferred (but not required) Qualifications:

  • Thermal modeling in metals and systems
  • Leadership in student and other groups
  • Strong commitment to solving big humanitarian problems
  • Strong desire to do so profitably in a progressive business
  • Video editing and production for project documentation (video apps for phones are fine)

This is Work for Hire and the Company owns all resulting invention and intellectual property. Nonetheless, the Company will give full public credit and publicity to those who invent solutions to help the world. The Company will encourage and assist the Intern to integrate the work with their education.  Independent publication of results is also allowed.

Applicants please contact Dr Nordica MacCarty and include your resume and statement of interest.

Dec. 5, 2020