IDEAS On Campus


Lehigh in Senegal

Lehigh in Senegal: Sustainable Building and Community Living

Using the information that a Lehigh travel team collected over spring break, this group is exploring sustainable building techniques that will eventually be implemented in rural Senegal to address major issues communities face each day. The goal is to develop a high-tech/low-tech approach to specific building components (blocks, roofs, windows, doors, structure) such that they can provide improved environmental performance - and subsequent occupant experience - within the economic and labor constraints that drive construction in the region of West Africa. The major issues the team is looking into are ventilation, bugs, and heat while keeping in mind how cost, aesthetics, and culture plays into practical implementation of the team's ideas.

News Article, Blog, Facebook

Group brainstorming


Adapting 3D Ocean Farming for Vulnerable Warm Water Coastlines

Recently, in most coastal areas, the ocean’s water quality has decreased due to nitrate-laden water, the resulting algal blooms from the increase in available nutrients, and a decreased dissolved oxygen in water after these algal blooms are decomposed. Kelp has a huge nitrate uptake, so therefore the more kelp farms there are, the more water quality improves. In addition, kelp does not use fertilizers so it is not further contributing to the problem, it uses less space than farming on land, and it is very nutritious. Kelp even absorbs 5x the amount of CO2 that trees do. The team is developing an added-value kelp product to encourage more kelp farms to start, while creating a for-profit business that creates a healthy, tasty, and environmentally friendly snack . 3D Ocean Farming, also known as Vertical Ocean Farming, has been implemented to date only in colder climates (New England, Ireland, Japan). Targeting the ecologically sensitive Louisiana coast, the team will work to adapt the approach to warmer and frequently rougher (hurricane-susceptible) waters.

Project Website

Moravian Archives

Recovering the Lost Village of Christian's Spring

Working from materials in the Moravian archives, students will study the now-lost Moravian community of Christian’s Spring. For over two decades in the mid-18th century, the Bethlehem Moravians engaged at the site in an innovative experiment in vocational education, operating a residential, communal trade school in which master craftsmen trained the next generation. They are transcribing and trasnlating German texts in order to find more about the lives of the poeple who lived there and the layout of the village.


Lehigh in Bermuda | the Future of Sustainability: Wave energy

Originally a Sustainable Development Course Project

The team is helping to teach a course in sustainable energy for high school students in Bermuda. Partnering with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and Eccosultion the team is also working on a wave energy converter.

founders day

150th Founder's Day Performance Experience

Dr. Steven Sametz (Music Dept) has been commissioned to create a new work to be performed at the presidential inauguration taking place at Founders Day, October 2, 2015, which is also the kick-off of Lehigh’s sesquicentennial celebration. The team aims to create an experience representing Lehigh's community by incorporating an interactive display device, music, and narrative sourced from astronomy, psychology, and neuroscience. The piece will explore cosmological events of 150 years ago, when Lehigh was founded, and use either sound or light of that time to create algorithms that will affect and enhance a performance in Packer Chapel in real time. The data from 150 years ago may be used to enhance digital delay on the choral sound, create a visual display happening during the piece, or a combination of both.


Wave Energy Conversion

Ocean waves are one of the world’s most abundant, predictable, and consistent sources of renewable energy. A wide variety of wave energy converter (WEC) designs are currently being developed and tested in R&D labs around the world; at their core, they all convert the energy in rolling ocean waves into electricity and deliver it to on-shore power grids. In this project as an extension of the PORT Lab, students will develop small WEC prototypes with which they can explore various strategies for harvesting wave energy. They are also developing an exhibit on wave energy for the Da Vinci Science Center.

Lehigh In Focus
Chester Toye

"My vision for this project is to transform our divided student body into a unified group of accepting students. The addition of this art around campus will hopefully lead students to realize the diversity around Lehigh, be accepting of all kinds of people, be curious about those who are different, and understand that we are ALL Lehigh."

Bulletin Article, News Article

anaerobic digester group

Anaerobic Digester

Will Kuehne, Tori Wierdorn, Corey Russ, Ellie Hayden

The team is building a small anaerobic digester for the project component of the IDEAS IV and V seminars. The objective of this project is to use biogas burning stoves and thermoelectric cell electricity generators to create a system that converts excess methane from biogas stove systems into electricity to power small electrical appliances (e.g. cell phone). The implications of this project will go beyond purely its effects on communities in developing countries since developed at Lehigh was a new composting technology, SUSAN, which utilizes ARDUINO to monitor a compost’s chemical balance. If ARDUINO were integrated with our proposed biomass to electricity generator, SUSAN would not have to rely on external energy input.

Innovations in Ventilation: Indoor Air Pollution

Improvements for Kitchens in the Developing World

Ventilation strategies may be more economically feasible than new cooking technologies, yet are comparatively unexplored.  Students will engage in both hands-on research on ventilation strategies using housing mockups, and database- and literature-based research on the scope and social context.

News Article

GR2OW (Green Resource Recovery of Waste)

The team looked into the feasibility of a campus composting system at Lehigh, to be implemented on or off campus. In addition, they investigated types of composting at other similar institutions to determine the most responsible closed-loop system for food waste disposal to be implemented at Lehigh. Working closely with the Facilities Services department, the team helped further Lehigh's composting efforts and tried to find innovative uses for organic waste generated on campus, reduce the campus’ environmental impact, and create a sustainable model for the campus food system as a reference for other institutions.

News Article, Blog

Department of Energy

Open Forum for Available Government Tax Returns on Energy Efficient Products

Sam Rogers, Dennis Moyer, Jeff Kasle

Hosted by the United States government, Department of Energy. The team proposed an easily assessable, location-based forum listing available tax benefits for energy efficient options such as select appliances, windows, lights, etc. The forum promotes energy conservation and helps individuals and small business to save money on their taxes.

The team's submission won the Best Idea for an Existing Dataset - Popular Choice Award at the American Energy Data Challenge in December 2013.

xiphias project

Xiphias Project

To predict the evolution of technical and creative performance automobiles the team developed various automotive engineering projects in aerodynamics, support structures, and powertrain systems, and integrated them into a professional-grade design package. They developed a professional-grade automotive body using CAD and other product design tools/skills, and then applied a new computational simulation tool (topology optimization) to create a lightweight chassis structure that was custom-fitted to the car body. This chassis was meant to demonstrate the capabilities of topology optimization for additive manufacturing (3D printing) in an industrial application. Awarded 1st place in 2014 Stratasys Extreme Redesign Competition, and presented "Topology Optimization of a Crashworthy Structure in an Automotive Application" at the International Conference on Engineering and Applied Sciences Optimization in June 2014.

Progress Report, News Article

Campus Activities

IDEAS students are commonly some of the most involved and active students on campus here at Lehigh. Below are a few examples of clubs in which many IDEAS students participate - this list is by no means a full representation of all of the activities that IDEAS students have participated in over the years.


  • Engineers Without Borders (EWB) - Lehigh's chapter of Engineers Without Borders focuses on providing clean water and education through sustainable solutions. They partner with communities so that the communities can manage the systems themselves in the future. Lehigh's chapter primary efforts are in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua where they are implementing a water system and in Cebadilla, Nicaragua they are designing a water distribution system.
  • Society of Women Engineers (SWE) - The Lehigh chapter of the national organization provides a support group and network for women engineers on campus, as well as opportunities to participate in and host engineering events on campus and within the greater bethlehem community. Each year SWE helps to run CHOICES, an engineering and science outreach program for middle-school girls.
  • Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) - In many parts of the tropical world, the rainy season increase the volume of rivers so intensely thats traditional passage through waterways are inaccessible for months, keeping kids out of schools, patients from medical care, and workers away from their jobs. Combining technical excellence with global awareness, Lehigh's Bridges to Prosperity design and construct pedestrian footbridges in rural communities to empower its residents.
  • TRAC Fellows - TRAC fellows are peer writing tutors who collaborate with both students and professors to create not only better student writers but also a better writing environment in classes and on campus overall. They focus on a student's overall writing process, not just improving one essay at a time.
  • Theater - When asked why people love theater, they typically say that they love to act and perform in front of people. The love of putting on a show is what gets an actor through the many hours of rehearsals. But at Lehigh theater it is also about the people. Every show is a new cast with a huge variety of talent, and by the end of a show, they're your family. Every show is a chance to perform and have an amazing time with a new little family in the process.
  • Ultimate Frisbee Team - a close knit group that loves playing together, the ultimate team practices three or four times a week and competse at about five tournaments each semester. This year the women's team placed ninth at nationals!
  • Swing Dance Club - offers a lesson and a social dance every week, so it is open to all levels of dancers and group is very welcoming! Steel City Swingers is the performance team, which choreographes their own a routine and performs at DanceFest and other events during the spring semester.
  • Break the Silence - a product of the Office of Gender Violence Education and Prevention, is a dynamic leadership group on campus that seeks to educate the Lehigh community about issues surrounding gender violence and sexuality. The young women and men in this group are passionate about these issues and work to create a more open and understanding community through their work.
  • Greek Life - Sorority Participation: Alpha Phi, Zeta Tau Alpha, Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Phi Omega, Alpha Omega Epsilon,
    Fraternity Participation: Theta Chi, PIKE, Phi Sigma Pi

    Explore the IDEAS program with current students, Deanna Kocher '17 and Nicole McCallum '18. From class registration, navigating the IDEAS seminar and Bill Best's advising, to their involvement on campus. For more, check out the #LehighIDEAS Blog: