Sustainable Engineering Internship

The SEI program is not being offered in 2023. Check back in January 2024.

Project Overview

How do power, water, and sanitation systems on a small island help us understand larger issues in sustainability? The unique location and nature of Appledore Island and Shoals Marine Laboratory provide an unparalleled opportunity for engineering students. This paid internship enables up to four interns to work side-by-side with SML staff and a variety of professional engineers to address the engineering challenges encountered when operating and maintaining electrical, drinking water, wastewater management, and saltwater systems on a remote island. Interns are expected to deliver a public presentation (Shoals Sustainability Symposium) and written report with recommendations for improvements and/or changes to existing infrastructure based on specific project assignments.

Internship Mentors

Sample Project List

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of SML’s recent LED lighting installations.
  • Evaluate the performance of a newly installed saltwater pumping system.
  • Work with professional engineers from a groundwater consulting company to help SML find alternative freshwater sources.
  • Research and recommend a reverse osmosis system that can be powered using excess solar energy in order to supplement SML’s drinking water supply.
  • Evaluate the performance of SML’s rooftop rainwater collection system used to water Celia Thaxter’s historic garden.
  • Determine the effectiveness of electrical load shedding equipment installed on SML’s well pump. Make suggestions for additional electrical equipment to load the shed.
  • Design a wash-down system for rooftop photovoltaic solar arrays. Predict achievable electrical gains through system implementation.
  • Evaluate SML’s existing energy producing systems (wind, solar and diesel) and help to outline design criteria for future green energy upgrades/implementation.
  • Study the effectiveness of SML’s grease trap and make recommendations on how to further reduce fats, oils and greases from entering its wastewater system.

Dates on Island: TBD

Shoals Sustainability Symposium: Dates to be announced

Stipend: $200/week (2022 rate)
Includes room & board for 4 weeks and roundtrip transportation to Appledore Island from SML's Portsmouth, NH dock. Interns are responsible for their own transportation to/from Portsmouth, NH.

The 2022 Shoals Sustainability Program is sponsored by Unitil.

"My summer on Appledore opened my eyes to the importance of developing sustainable technologies. Working on the island’s renewable energy grid sparked my interest in the energy problems the world is facing. SML is the perfect place to learn about renewable energy because it is essentially a model of real world systems, but on a small scale making it easy to understand. That summer proved to be a life changing experience and I am forever grateful to have had this opportunity."

– 2013 Sustainabile Engineering Intern, Eric Mauer (University of Delaware)

Sustainable Engineering Internship (SEI) Yearly Reports

At the conclusion of each session, the sustainable engineering interns compile a report outlining the summer's projects, outcomes and recommendations for future projects. Reports from 2006-2019 are below.

To Apply

  • Application Deadline: TBD
  • Applicants should be prepared to upload (as separate files): cover letter, resume/CV, and unofficial transcripts.
  • Request two letters of recommendation. At least one letter must be from a professor/faculty member. The second can be from a graduate student TA or employer.
  • Applicants must be entering junior or senior year of college during the fall semester 2020, or a graduate student.
  • No previous SML experience required.
  • Cornell and UNH students may be preferentially selected.


Email Dr. David Buck

More Info About Sustainable Appledore