Environmental Engineering Internships Available at Dancing Rabbit

solar panels dancing rabbit
Installing solar panel's at Dancing Rabbit's Skyhouse

My friends up at the Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage (where — disclaimer — I’m now a board member) have a knack for creating educational opportunities based on their own efforts to build a sustainable community. Both work exchanges and internships have focused on skills and practices many of them have honed for years. This Summer, they’ll be adding to the educational offerings with two 3-month internships in environmental engineering, specifically dealing with renewable energy generation.

The work will focus on the future of energy generation at the village. They’ve already planned to build a new community building (that will need heat), and also to install 35kW wind turbine and a village-wide electric grid. In conjunction with these plans, they “envision a system that collects thermal energy from the sun, supplemented by a biomass fired boiler which together power electricity generation with resultant heat going to meet the common house’s heating requirements.”

That’s right… you can contribute to the evolution of the community’s energy infrastructure. The work will include exploring a variety of technical options for making these systems a reality… by the end of the three months, interns will also have finished a paper suitable for publication on the community website (and perhaps in other publications).

You’ll get to do all of this while participating in the DR community… and I guarantee you’ll learn just as much from that portion of the experience. The community will provide room and board at Skyhouse, one of the village’s original buildings (which is really comfortable… I’ve got to admit I was really surprised when I first visited). Expect to eat fresh seasonal produce (much of which is grown just a few feet away), contribute to meal preparation, and (I’d guess) enjoy games of ultimate frisbee and dips in pond. Plan to spend quality time with really friendly, down-to-earth people.

If you’re pursuing an engineering degree (ideally), and think this sounds like a great way to spend the Summer, you’ll find much more information at the internship’s web page. Applications are due by April 1st.

Think you might apply? Already have ideas about the community’s plans? Let us know what you think…

Thinking about adding renewable energy technology to your own home? Check out our current listings of grid-tie solar systems, inverters, and panels.

Image credit: Dancing Rabbit

  1. Joe

    I am glad to hear about projects and internships – are you partnering with any schools such as U of Mich School of Natural Resources etc- how many DR homes will a turbine of this size power.

  2. Tony Sirna

    Hi Joe,

    We do not have a specific partnership with any university but would be happy to have one. Unfortunately our local university does not have an engineering program and we’ve not yet developed technical contacts at other universities. Let us know if you have suggestions.

    A 35kW turbine will produce 2-4 times what our current power production, which serves 50 people (homes is a tricky question for us). So it should be enough power for an electric vehicle or two and a doubling of our population. Of course we may develop other ways to use electricity to decrease our use of non-sustainable things, like electric cooking vs propane.

    One thing to consider is that at Dancing Rabbit we use about 5-10% of the electricity per capita that your average American uses. That is the real secret to sustainable living – reducing consumption first and then looking to find sustainable alternatives.

  3. Joe

    I would suggest contacting:

    Center for Sustainable Systems
    School of Natural Resources and Environment
    University of Michigan
    3012 Dana Building
    440 Church Street
    Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1041

    Web site is: http://www.snre.umich.edu/

    The school has a joint engineering and sustainability program look under degrees at the web site. Of course I am a bit prejudiced towards the U of MI school of Natural Resources since that is where I went to school (over 37 years ago)- I will send an email to them about your article also.
    Phone: (734) 764-1412
    [email protected]

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