STEMM Idol Speaker

University of Dayton senior Mechanical Engineering student Mark Abram talked with students in the CIL Monday during all homeroom periods about his experiences in India building environmentally friendly and efficient cooking stoves for safe use by families. 

Abram and members of UD’s ETHOS program—Engineers in Technical, Humanitarian Opportunities of Service-Learning—spent 10 weeks living in India last summer, researching better ways of building rocket cook stoves. Rocket stoves are wood-burning stoves, often found in third-world countries, which can be made from cheap materials and are used to heat pots that sit on top.

“One of the big issues in India, and in parts of Southeast Asia and Africa, is that people have to cook on open fires inside their homes,” Abram told students. The open burning indoors allows for the release of carbon and harmful particle emissions, which can cause respiratory problems for children and families if the smoke is inhaled.

Along with decreasing emissions, the team also wanted to make the stoves more efficient by cutting down on the amount of wood necessary to heat the pots to boiling. To achieve this, the engineering students modified the stoves with battery-powered fans. With the installation of fans, Abram said they were able to boil two large pots in 27 minutes. In addition, ETHOS members built “solar wood dryers” for storing and drying the fire wood used to fuel the rocket stoves.

According to its Web site, “ETHOS is founded on the belief that engineers are more apt and capable to serve our world more appropriately when they have experienced opportunities that increase their understanding of technology's global linkage with values, culture, society, politics, and economy.”