Solar photovoltaic technology represents one of the fastest growing industries and the open source hardware movement (particularly RepRap 3-D printers) is exploding. As the Free Appropriate Sustainable Technology (FAST) Lab is on the cutting edge of two popular fields - entrance into the group is extremely competitive. We literally get dozens of email applications a week. That said, we are always looking for highly-motivated excellent students that share our research interests. Competitive graduate students need to be in the top 10% in grades and test scores (GRE 90th percentile scores are above 162 for verbal, 164 for quantitative, and 5 or higher in analytical writing. For international students - TOEFL scores >100, IELTS scores >7.5). Ideal applicants have a history and a portfolio already built up in the areas of our research or closely related areas.

Potential Graduate Students[edit | edit source]

Dr. Pearce is seeking students at the Ph.D and masters levels for research in solar photovoltaic materials, distributed recycling and additive manufacturing (DRAM), libre hardware and open source appropriate technology (OSAT). Interested applicants should have a strong academic background and a demonstrated interest in solar energy and/or open source hardware.

  • Ph.D. and masters students are generally fully funded, both tuition and monthly stipends. Only the highest quality students interested in a masters degree will be considered. Students are generally ranked in the top 10% of their class or higher at an internationally-reputable institution and have undertaken some major project in applied sustainability before joining the group (e.g. organized Engineers Without Borders chapters at their former schools) or open hardware/software (e.g. founded a hackerspace).
    • Dr. Pearce sometimes advises students on non-fully funded projects and in these case students are funded via hourly work or for 'bounties' (e.g. lump sums for the completion of a clearly defined deliverable)

Group Application Process[edit | edit source]

All of the work that our group does is in part or whole "free and open source" - see our category of Appropedia here. Appropedia is a wiki (editable website like Wikipedia) and the largest user-edited site on the web that concentrates on sustainability, poverty reduction, and appropriate technology. We work on developing a wide range of appropriate technologies and the reasons we use Appropedia are outlined in this paper

If after reading about our work you would like to join, please do the following:

  1. Set up your own user account on Appropedia (click the upper right on any page on the site).
  2. Create a user page to describe yourself by clicking on the red link of your username in the upper right after you have logged in, write about your background and projects that are relevant to Appropedia and FAST. Then add your picture. If you haven't used a wiki before see . You can use these pages as examples.
  3. Use your page to experiment and learn wiki markup. After you know what you are doing with wiki editing - then I would like you to write up a formal page on Appropedia for your most relevant and useful project to date in solar or open source hardware with links back to your existing work. FOSS developers - just do a splash page for your best work and link to your github or similar account.
  4. When this is done - send Dr. Pearce ( an email with the links to your user page, project page and your unofficial application materials grades/test scores. If you are qualified and a good match for an open funded project you will be contacted immediately.
  5. After you send it - if you meet all the requirements I will contact you for a Jitsi interview
  6. If the interview goes well I will encourage you to apply through the university here

We are both constantly looking for students and applying for funding - sometimes there is not match at the time - we are sorry that we do not always have positions.

Undergraduates[edit | edit source]

Coming to Western and a top student?

Undergraduates at Western can apply for positions in FAST in the same way as graduate students above.

  • In addition, we sometimes accept volunteers, visiting undergraduate student projects and also sometimes pay via hourly work or for 'bounties' (e.g. lump sums for the completion of a clearly defined deliverable)
  • We encourage non-MTU undergrads to visit for the summer, but they will have to apply for their own funding.
  • Tech companies often prefer hiring those who have open-source experience — a preference that is only growing stronger.
  • All undergraduates should be considering graduate school. Consider the following graph:
  • Or consider: a survey by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and other engineering societies found that during the recession - from 2011 to 2013 - the average salary rose almost 5% for engineers.
  • Or that engineering unemployment is just 1.9% and down to pre-recession levels, reports IEEE
  • Capstones: For Software, Luiz Capretz. For Electrical/Computer Jayshri Sabarinathan. For Mechatronics Abbas Samani

Visiting Graduate Students and Postdocs[edit | edit source]

  • We have openings for visiting graduate students and postdocs. Internships are unpaid (you must have your own funding) and must last at least 3 months. If interested, please send your CV and a statement of your research interests to Joshua Pearce (

Industry and Visiting Scholars[edit | edit source]

We are eager to collaborate with industry in our research and currently house three visiting scholar positions. If interested, contact Joshua Pearce (