Current students 

Meredith ApfelbaumMeredith Apfelbaum
Meredith is a student in the Peace Corps Master’s International program in mechanical engineering. She earned a BS in Engineering and a minor in English Literature from Trinity College. After graduation, Meredith worked for two years at kW Mission Critical Engineering designing large scale cooling systems for data centers before deciding to shift her career to a more human-centered application of engineering. She is currently studying design and global development through engineering, anthropology, economics, and agriculture. She will began her 27 months of volunteer service with the Peace Corps in the summer or fall of 2017 and was placed in Ghana. She returned in fall 2019 to continue her studies. She enjoys rowing with the Corvallis Rowing Club in her spare time.

Liam CassidyLiam Cassidy

After earning his bachelor of science in mechanical engineering at the University of Portland, Liam enrolled as a graduate student at Oregon State University, pursuing a Master's of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a focus in thermal fluid sciences.  Liam’s research focus concerns the development design tools for wood-fueled biomass cookstoves by way of creating open-source computational fluid dynamics software. Liam hopes to use his technical expertise to improve human health and safety in the midst of population growth and climate change.

Heather MilllerHeather Milller

Heather completed her undergraduate in mechanical engineering at Oregon State and is currently pursuing a Master's of Science in Mechanical Engineering Design. She has a passion for both humanitarian and sustainable engineering projects with her current research focusing on new ways to quantify the effectiveness of improved cook stoves that are in use in developing countries. 

Raj OakRaj Oak

Raj is a master's student in mechanical engineering minoring in business administration. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Mumbai University, India and completed internships at Base Maintenance Division- Air India and MAHAGENCO Gas Turbine Power Plant in India before starting master’s program in fall 2018. He envisions technology to ‘get it out’ in the world from laboratory. Currently he is working as an intern in OSU Advantage Accelerator which is a business incubator for turning OSU research into a successful business ventures. His research involves studying a novel wind harnessing technology capable of working in most prevalent wind speed conditions around rural and urban areas. This project is supported by VentureWell Organization and is helping out in its potential business development.

Erin PeifferErin Peiffer

Erin is a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering minoring in applied anthropology. Her research focuses on the combination of engineering and anthropology tools for the design of clean energy technologies in developing countries. Prior to starting at Oregon State, Erin received her Master’s of Science in Renewable and Clean Energy and Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Dayton. While at Dayton, Erin participated in humanitarian engineering immersions in South Africa and Ghana which only helped to fuel her passion to do work that benefits those oftentimes underrepresented in the world of design. 

ThidaratThidarat Sawai

 Thidarat is an international student under sponsorship from the Thai government. She earned master’s degree in Solar Energy from Université de Perpignan in France in 2009 then worked at Department of Alternative energy development and Energy efficiency (DEDE) in Thailand before deciding to continue Ph.D. degree in Thermal fluid Science since Fall 2017. She believes in the power of people and renewable energy. For her Ph.D. degree, she focuses on the combination of promising solar energy resource in an appropriate and sustainable way to improve the quality of life of people in the rural area, particularly for children. Her research focuses on creating a heating system to use during winter to alleviate severe cold weather and improve hygiene for children in childcare centers in rural Thailand.

Julia ThurberJulia Thurber
Julia is a mechanical engineering student in the Peace Corps Master’s International program at Oregon State University. She received her BS in Mechanical Engineering from LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas where she discovered her passion for engineering and service to impoverished communities. She spent the Spring of 2016 interning with Compassion International, a faith-based NGO, in Colorado Springs and Nicaragua. For her Peace Corps service, she was accepted as a Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Extensionist volunteer in Panama, set to begin in June 2017. She returned to campus fall 2019 and is completing her coursework and thesis.


Past students

Grace BurlesonGrace Burleson
Grace is from Beaverton, OR and is pursuing a Dual Master’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Anthropology. She completed her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at OSU where she gained experience designing and evaluating technologies and processes for the developing world, including an in-depth study of BioSand filtration and development of systems-based income-generating activities for women in Uganda. Her current research works to integrate and evaluate improved water disinfection and cooking technologies for institutions, such as schools and hospitals, in low-resource contexts.

UPDATE: Since graduating in June 2018, Grace has been serving as an expert fellow and junior program manager for She has accepted a doctoral graduate research position in Design Science at the University of Michigan beginning Fall 2019.

Nick MosesNick Moses
Nick is from Portland, Oregon, and is pursuing a Master’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Anthropology. He travelled to El Salvador with Engineers Without Borders to help implement a rainwater catchment project while completing his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at OSU, and worked with a nonprofit specializing in improved institutional cookstoves after graduation. Nick’s current research is focused on developing a usability protocol for improved cookstoves, which will help to encourage more user-friendly designs and improved adoption rates.

UPDATE: Nick is currently the director of the non-profit cookstove manufacturing firm, Institutional Energy Solutions, and will be working in Kenya for the next year designing and manufacturing institutional cookstoves with BURN Manufacturing. He has also received and deferred a doctoral position at the University of Michigan.


Mohammad PakravanMohammad Pakravan
Mohammad is a Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering focused on design for the developing world. He received his master’s degree in renewable and clean energies from University of Dayton, Ohio and his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Isfahan University of Technology in Iran. He has extensive experience in energy policy is interested in improving the impact of engineered solutions for realistically addressing public challenges such as poverty and climate change. A great design or well manufactured product is not enough to be implemented and adopted by the users, in an interdisciplinary effort, he is working on incorporating economics, psychology and anthropology into the engineering designs that target poverty alleviation and sustainable development in developing world context. Also, he enjoys the natural beauty of Pacific Northwest by canoeing, skiing and hiking!

UPDATE: After graduating with his Ph.D., Mohammad accepted a position as Technical Manager for the non-profit Green Empowerment in Portland, Oregon. 

Megan RichardsonMegan Richardson
Megan Richardson is a mechanical engineering student in the Peace Corps Master’s International program from Cohasset, Massachusetts. She received her BS in Mechanical engineering from Lafayette University in Easton, Pennsylvania. Since the Summer of 2015, Megan has been engaged as a secondary math teacher in Mbeya, Tanzania where she is working on community-based projects for rural communities.

UPDATE: After graduating with her MS, Megan accepted a position at MIT's Lincoln Laboratories


Jen VentrellaJen Ventrella
Jen is a dual MS student in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Anthropology with a focus in humanitarian applications. She completed her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at Union College, NY, where she became interested in energy efficient technologies after conducting research on energy efficient aerogel windows. She traveled to Guatemala in June 2016 to study household energy use in low-resource settings. Jen is currently working on a sensor-based platform to quantify cookstove usage and adoption in low-resource communities, with a focus on entrepreneurship and anthropology.

UPDATE: After earning her dual MS degree, Jen is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public and Urban Planning at the New School in New York City.