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. Undergraduate students should be in the top 10% in grades and generally have an A average.

Canada is the #1 destination for global talent, Western University is a top 1% global university, and Ivey is the #1 Business school in Canada and Dr. Pearce ranks in the top 0.1% in Academia. Please consider joining FAST -- one of the top research groups in the world!

Potential Graduate Students[edit | edit source]


Dr. Pearce is currently seeking students at the Ph.D and masters levels for research in open source solar photovoltaic systems, distributed recycling and additive manufacturing (DRAM), libre hardware and open source appropriate technology (OSAT) and resilient foods. Interested applicants should have a strong academic background and a demonstrated interest in our targeted fields of study.

  • 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).
  • Accelerated masters: We currently have a pathway for Western undergraduate students to join an “accelerated” version our MESc program immediately following their final BESc term. Exceptionally qualified students who are 3rd year now may be eligible to receive offers to the MESc program for May of the next year. Any student who receives an offer by August 31 before the start of their 4th or final year of undergraduate study, may be approved to take up to two graduate level courses during their undergrad, which can later be counted toward their MESc course requirements. This means that once they join the master’s program, they can spend less time on course work, more time on research, and potentially finish the MESc in less than 6 terms (i.e. in an accelerated fashion).
  • 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.

  • Undergraduates that want time to do research during the year can take IE 4490A/B, IE 4491A/B - Integrated Engineering Research Project

This course is designed to provide undergraduate students with an introduction to engineering research, with the intent of encouraging them to continue to graduate school. Individual students are paired with a single instructor and provided with a range of research projects to choose from based on their shared interests. The projects are scaled so that they can be completed by a single student within a term of hard work, with the intent to publish at the end. The student and instructor collaborate to develop a specific project outline. Students start with a literature review, a basic outline of research attack and methodology, do the experiment or simulation and then write it up with the assistance of the instructor. Weekly meetings with the instructor provide guidance. By the end the course, students will have gained an understanding of how engineering research is conducted, and it is expected that most will be able to publish the results of their work. IE 4490A/B may be taken in any term and may be repeated for credit as IE 4491A/B, with the approval of the instructor and the undergraduate chair for the student’s engineering program.

  • 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-UWO undergrads to visit for the summer, but they will have to apply for their own funding.

Notes for Undergraduates:

  • 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

Education Level Average Income [1] Data source: U.S. Census

  • Less than 9th grade $26,293
  • 9th to 12th grade, no diploma $27,987
  • High school graduate (includes equivalency) $39,976
  • Some college, no degree $48,555
  • Associate's degree $51,161
  • Bachelor's degree $80,478
  • Bachelor's degree or more $91,892
  • Master's degree $98,268
  • Doctoral degree $141,178

Visiting Graduate Students[edit | edit source]

  • We have openings for visiting graduate students. 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 (
  • Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development (students from ASEAN member countries - Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, or Vietnam)
  • Protocol after we talk: Go here. VISITING GRADUATE STUDENT (Research Only) PLAN For INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS - University of Western Ontario VISITING GRADUATE STUDENT (Research Only) PLAN For INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS Form revised March 2017 General Information Visiting Graduate Students (VGS) are allowed to conduct research at the university but do not fall under an approved

So it would go something like this:

  1. Review this link ^^ and get the home institution to draft a letter with the required info
  2. Send the items in the checklist to me and I will send on to Courtney
  3. From there we'll have to craft the invitation letter using the official wording.
  4. ECE grad associate chair (Aleks) signs off and we sent it to Western International

Postdocs[edit | edit source]

Apply with the same Appropedia user page and email as a PhD student, then after an interview with me, I would encourage you to review the SGPS Postdoctoral Appointment process at:

The next step would be to complete the online application form at:

High School Students[edit | edit source]

Industry, Visiting Faculty and Visiting Scholars[edit | edit source]

We are eager to collaborate with industry in our research and currently house three visiting scholar positions and associated persons for industry (Christina Bobier). If interested, contact Joshua Pearce ( Visiting Faculty opportunities:

For visiting students: You will need to have a valid passport, ETA visa approved, and Mitacs invitation letter. You will enter Canada under short term (120-day) work permit exemption. Request a visitor record from CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) officer, at the time of arrival in Canada, with notation that you are entering Canada under “short term (120-day) work permit exemption for researchers”.

Volunteers[edit | edit source]

Western rules[edit | edit source]

FA info icon.svgAngle down icon.svgPage data
Authors Joshua M. Pearce
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
Language English (en)
Translations Persian, Chinese
Related 2 subpages, 307 pages link here
Impact 5,716 page views
Created August 7, 2021 by Joshua M. Pearce
Modified February 19, 2024 by Joshua M. Pearce
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