What are Mountaintop Projects?
Mountaintop projects are interdisciplinary deep dives where faculty, students, and external partners come together and take new intellectual, creative, and/or artistic pathways that lead to transformative new innovations, new expressions, and new questions. We expect students to take radical ownership in their projects, and envision faculty mentors as partners and co-creators striving to propel their projects forward on the journey towards tangible, sustainable impact: impact which builds the skillsets, mindsets, and portfolios of pioneers and change-makers in a rapidly changing world.
from Inquiry to Impact
Mountaintop applications are now closed.
For more information please email us at: email@example.com
There are two options for participation in the Mountaintop Summer Experience:
#1 - Mountaintop Fellows - paid a stipend ($4,000 for undergraduates, $5,500 for graduate students) and get weekday lunches in Building C. Fellows cannot take any summer courses or have outside employment, internships, or externships during the Mountaintop program. Fellows are expected to be working on their project in Building C for the full 10 weeks of the program (June 1st - August 7th).
#2 - Mountaintop Associates - no stipend, full participation on project teams and get weekday lunches in Building C. Associates can take summer courses and/or have outside employment, subject to approval by faculty mentors. Associates are asked to spend at least 10 hours per week, on average, with their projects, in consultation with faculty mentors.
All projects have a limited number of Fellows that can be accepted and the selection process is more competitive. The number of Associates is not as limited so the selection process is much less competitive, although applicants still need to be approved by project faculty mentors.
No matter whether you are an Associate or a Fellow, you will be part of the Mountaintop community of doers, changers, instigators, innovators, and strivers in Building C this summer. Apply and join us!
List of Projects and Descriptions
- LGBT Archives (Full title: Expanding LGBT Community Archival Holdings and Exhibiting Archival Material to Engage Communities in Regional LGBT History) – Faculty mentor: Mary Foltz, English (2 UG Fellows, 1-3 Associates)
- Continuing to expand, curate, and discover archival materials that document the history of LGBTQ+ people in the Lehigh Valley. This team will create a public exhibit of the archive, working with local partners and organizations to mine the trove of hidden histories and bring them to light. Keywords / student interests: community engagement, LGBTQ+ advocacy, museum exhibitions, local histories.
- Mech - A Platform for Robotics Outreach Education – Faculty mentor: Corey Montella, Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics (2 UG Fellows, 1-3 Associates)
- Knowledge of coding is essential in the 21st century! Teaching coding through interactions with robotics can make the subject accessible to secondary school students, and Mech is a programming language that makes coding a highly learnable and teachable skill. This project will develop an education outreach program using Mech called Forward Robotics and implement it into school systems. Keywords / student interests: STEM education, programming and coding languages, machine learning.
- Neuroscience Salon (NeuroSalon) - Faculty mentor: Julie Miwa, Biological Sciences (2 UG Fellows, 1-3 Associates)
- How does the brain connect scientific thought with artistic creation? How can we make that connection stronger? This project will use existing neuroscience to create new neuroscience, making artistic and musical creations that can “speak” the language of scientific knowledge in a way that bridges both of these usually separate worlds. Keywords / student interests: music composition, neurobiology and neuroscience, creative performance.
- Preventing School-Based Violence through Gender Expansion and Equity – Faculty mentor: Nicole Johnson, College of Education, Counseling Psychology program (2 UG Fellows, 1-3 Associates)
- The prevention of violence in schools is an increasingly critical matter that reaches across political divides. This project will examine this issue, and propose and pilot a curricular solution for K-12 schools, through the lens of gender equity. The primary question at hand is: what relationship do gender-based violence and gender inequality play in the prevalence of school-based violence? Ultimately the project will establish best practices for violence prevention in schools. Keywords / student interests: gender-based violence, educational programming, gender studies, educational equity, curriculum design, sociology of gender in/and youth.
- Rewriting the Script 2.0 (Full title: Rewriting the Script 2.0: Designing Virtual Racial Embodiment Interactions to Transform U.S. Race Relations) - Faculty mentor: Valerie Taylor, Psychology (2 UG / 1 G Fellows, 1-3 Associates)
- Could virtual reality be the key to improving interracial relations? This project will continue to build on the work of teams in the past year, who have been developing VR scenarios, using the political theatre theories of artists like Augusto Boal, which can allow users to embody the “other” in order to increase empathy and understanding. Keywords / student interests: virtual reality, psychology of race, coding, theatre and drama.
- SLA/DLP Printing Calibration (Full title: Data-Driven Image Based Calibration for SLA/DLP Printing and Lithography) - Faculty mentor: Yaling Liu, Bioengineering (2 UG Fellows, 1-3 Associates)
- 3D printing, and additive manufacturing, have become ubiquitous in today’s society. But how can we make these processes more reliable and accurate? This project focuses on a data-driven method for calibration and reducing imperfections in the process of lithography or 3D printing using the stereolithography (SLA) and digital light processing (DLP) methods. Keywords / student interests: computer science, math, computer engineering, data science, stereolithography.
- Socializing Race in Young Children (Full title: Developing Lab Tasks to Measure How European-American Mothers Socialize Racial Attitudes in Young Children) - Faculty mentor: Debbie Laible, Psychology (1 UG / 1 G Fellow, 1-3 Associates)
- How are attitudes and perspectives of white children toward other races formed in the earliest parts of childhood from their parents? This project will design and implement laboratory studies, to understand what factors lead to the formation of racial understanding, and dig deeper into verbal and nonverbal messages from parents. Keywords / student interests: child development, psychology of race, parenting, sociology.
- Southside Permaculture Park - Faculty mentor: Al Wurth, Political Science (2 UG Fellows, 1-3 Associates)
- On Summit Street and Montclair Avenue, at the border between Lehigh’s campus and south Bethlehem, seeds are being planted for a permaculture park. This community space seeks to inspire and educate visitors about permaculture principles, and be a social bridge between the campus community and the surrounding neighborhood, eventually being a model to do the same anywhere people live, work, and play. Keywords / student interests: sustainable development, permaculture, community engagement, urban design, agriculture, ecology.
- STEM Learning Through Interactive Visualizations (Full title: Promoting Experiential learning and Creative Inquiry in Science and Engineering via Interactive Online Visualization) - Faculty mentors: Srinivas Rangarajan and Vince Grassi, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (2 UG Fellows, 1-3 Associates)
- STEM education, particularly engineering education, will become increasingly personal and experiential. This project will design and create interactive visualizations as a means of conveying complex concepts in science and engineering, giving students new ways to understand how these concepts play out in active, real time. Keywords / student interests: STEM education, chemical engineering, computer science, computer engineering, data visualization.
- A Stormwater Smart Campus - Faculty mentor: Ethan Yang, Civil & Environmental Engineering (1 UG / 1 G Fellows, 1-3 Associates)
- With climate change upon us, how do we mitigate against the threat of floods? Flooding can cause economic and structural damage that takes years to recover from. Green Infrastructure (GI) elements like rain barrels and green roofs can reduce this damage significantly. This project will work to upgrade GI on Lehigh’s campus, ultimately becoming a model for GI upgrades city- and nation-wide. Keywords / student interests: sustainable development, green infrastructure, structural engineering, urban design, environmental science.
- Testbed for Self-Driving Cars in Urban Environments with Traffic - Faculty mentor: Cristian-Ioan Vasile, Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics (2 UG Fellows, 1-3 Associates)
- We all know about the dawn of the self-driving car, but we also know about the problems and dangers in early versions. This project will plan, design, and create a working testbed that will simulate various urban environments and traffic scenarios, and will employ various simulations, with the goal of developing improved operating software for self-driving cars in complex urban landscapes. Keywords / student interests: systems engineering, programming, hardware design, urban design, transportation, machine learning.
- Virtual Lives of Vaping - Faculty mentors: Haiyan Jia, Journalism & Communication; Amanda Greene, Humanities Lab (2 UG Fellows, 1-3 Associates)
- Vaping, and related “vape culture,” has become a public health problem just as tobacco and cigarettes were for prior generations. This project will dig deeply into the culture and marketing of vaping, how “vape-fluencers” leverage social media and other platforms to disseminate products, and the resulting risks to public health, eventually constructing and implementing workable vaping cessation campaigns. Keywords / student interests: sociology, public health, public communications, social media, cultural anthropology, marketing.
- Virtual Reality Teaching Tool for Chemistry Labs - Faculty mentor: Xiaoji Xu, Chemistry (2 UG Fellows, 1-3 Associates)
- How can we make it possible for chemistry students anywhere to experience the latest scientific equipment and innovations in a lab? Through virtual reality, of course. Building on work done in 2019-20, this team will be using 3D printing technology to design, build, and optimize an apparatus for conducting VR teaching in a chemistry lab that can be streamed out to proxy sites. Keywords / student interests: virtual reality, STEM education, product design, additive manufacturing, hardware design, programming, coding.
- Beyond Bars – Project mentor: Bill Whitney, Ph.D. Theatre (1-3 Associates)
- The issue of mass incarceration is one that touches lives locally, regionally, and globally. The Beyond Bars project aims to use innovative forms of theatre and other forms of artistic expression to examine individual and community-wide consequences that stem from mass incarceration and draw attention, dialogue, and advocacy on behalf of these critical social justice issues. Students have written and produced two pieces of reader’s theatre based on stories and interviews conducted in the Northampton County Prison system. Currently, we are focusing attention on women in the prison system. Keywords / student interests: mass incarceration, social justice, arts advocacy, theatre and drama, performance, public policy.
- Tuition or Dinner? Food Security for Lehigh Students – Project mentor: Karen Beck Pooley, Political Science (2 UG Fellows, 1-3 Associates)
- Campuses, as places where thousands of people live and work, are complex food systems. When you take into account the surrounding communities in which they reside, the system becomes even more complex. This project will study the food systems of both Lehigh University and its south Bethlehem community with the goal of identifying new and innovative pathways for bolstering food security. Areas of initial exploration will include: what to do with leftover food; donating to local shelters through the Food Recovery Network; the feasibility of a campus food pantry. Other topics might include food waste, farmer’s markets, food sourcing, food deserts, and circular, sustainable food systems. Students on the Mountaintop team are expected to continue project work through the CINQ 389 course for at least two credits in the Fall 2020 semester. Keywords / student interests: food systems, food security, economics, public policy, marketing, community engagement.
- Community Engagement and Environmental Initiatives in Kazakhstan – Faculty mentor: Dinissa Duvanova, International Relations (1-3 Associates)
- This project is researching approaches to assessing the environmental and social impacts of air pollution, working with local stakeholders in and around Almaty, Kazakhstan to collect data and design and implement a locally sustainable system for monitoring air quality. The team will evaluate the costs and benefits of alternative approaches to monitoring air quality, test and assess the proposed solution, and produce the technical and public reports detailing the results of their research. They will also write policy briefs for the Department of Green Economics and local environmental NGOs. Keywords / student interests: environmental science, public policy, international relations, urban design, public health.
- Diagnosing Autism in Africa – Faculty mentor: Kristi Morin, College of Education, Special Education program (1-3 Associates)
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is considered a global health concern; however, nearly everything we know about autism comes from research in high-income countries. The dearth of research on ASD is particularly problematic in countries across Africa, likely due to the lack of a culturally appropriate screening and diagnostic tool to identify individuals with ASD. This project will evaluate tools commonly used in the United States to diagnose autism in order to assess their feasibility and cultural appropriateness. Keywords / student interests: child development, public health, cultural anthropology, special education.
- Food Product to Fight Malnutrition and Stunting – Faculty mentor: Lori Herz, Bioengineering (1-3 Associates)
- Malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are common in Sierra Leone, especially among children under five years of age. This often results in stunting, wasting, developmental delays, and mortality. Over the past year, this team has developed several nutrient-dense foods at Lehigh, which were prepared and tested in Sierra Leone last summer. The next phase of the work includes improvement of the recipes, investigating methods of preservation and packaging, analysis of the products for nutrient levels, shelf-life testing, designing a clinical study, and creating and executing a business plan. Keywords / student interests: nutrition science, marketing, food systems, bioengineering, public health.
- Mushroom Production Systems – Faculty mentor: Khanjan Mehta, Creative Inquiry (1-3 Associates)
- Mushrooms grow fast! Commercial production of mushrooms can improve local food security, reduce malnutrition, and augment livelihoods. After tremendous success in Cambodia, this team is designing a commercial mushroom production ecosystem in Sierra Leone. After two years of work, the team has successfully jumpstarted oyster mushroom production with a local project manager now running operations. It’s time to figure out how to grow operations from 10 kgs/month to 1,000 kgs/month. Keywords / student interests: sustainable agriculture, systems engineering, community health, international relations, food security.
- PlasTech Ventures – Empowering Women by Recycling Plastic to Produce High-Value Products – Faculty mentor: Ganesh Balasubramanian, Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics (1-3 Associates)
- This project aims to provide income opportunities for women in a partnering local community (Malabon, Metro Manila, Philippines) by building a community-based, micro-recycling facility. Now in year two of the project, moving forward means further assessing the market opportunities, continue development on equipment, and develop a path for technology transfer and training. Through this project, women in the community will be manufacturing up-cycled products themselves, thus emphasizing gender equality and empowerment. Aside from finished goods, useful raw materials may also be made and supplied to local manufacturers to turn into high-value products. Keywords / student interests: sustainable development, circular economies, product design, mechanical engineering, additive manufacturing, environmental science, international relations, local economies.
- Sickle Cell Diagnostic Device – Faculty mentor: Xuanhong Cheng, Bioengineering (1-3 Associates)
- Sickle cell disease is prevalent in Sierra Leone and contributes significantly to the high mortality rate of children. Current diagnosis of sickle cell in Sierra Leone is mostly symptom-based since standard diagnostic equipment requires too much training and infrastructure for resource-limited settings. Students are developing point-of-care test strips for sickle cell disease and studying the impact of diagnosis on patients’ outcomes. The end goal of this project is to make the tests widely available in Sierra Leone as part of a program to identify and manage sickle cell patients. Keywords / student interests: bioengineering, public health, healthcare systems, epidemiology, international relations.
- Ukweli Test Strips – Faculty mentor: Khanjan Mehta, Creative Inquiry (1-3 Associates)
- Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. This team has developed inexpensive (2-cent) test strips to screen women for Urinary Tract Infections and Preeclampsia during pregnancy. The team recently received regulatory approval from the Pharmacy Control Board in Sierra Leone, and is preparing for fieldwork in August to strengthen field operations, design and implement effective messaging strategies, and integrate the test strips into the national healthcare system. Keywords / student interests: public health, marketing, cultural economies, healthcare systems, public policy.
- Urban Design and Smart City Innovations – Faculty mentor: Khanjan Mehta, Creative Inquiry (1-3 Associates)
- Smart city project innovations are being introduced throughout Kazakhstan, particularly in the country’s largest city, Almaty. These innovations are happening in the areas of health care, education, and safety/security, among many others. As Almaty continues to grow and develop into a major world capital, the need for it to be on the leading edge of the “smart cities” movement will only increase. This project will work with community organizations and leading universities in Kazakhstan, as well as students from Lingnan University in Hong Kong, to design and develop the next generation of smart city urban design innovations, and find ways to work with governmental and NGO entities to implement those solutions into the Kazakh capital. Keywords / student interests: urban design, electrical and computer engineering, data science, public policy, international relations, community engagement.
- Copra Processing and Production – Faculty mentors: Sabrina Jedlicka, Materials Science and Engineering; Christina Haden, Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics (No Additional Students at this time)
- Copra, the dried sections of the meat of coconuts, is valued for its many uses including coconut oil extract, but is also a major agricultural export for the Philippines. It is often processed using traditional, time-consuming and inefficient methods including sun-drying and smoke-drying, before being processed into its various products. This project’s goal is to improve copra processing and process streamlining for increased income of copra farmers in the Philippines. Identified needs include a faster, all-weather processing technique that yields better copra quality compared to manual methods, and a way for farmers to communicate over long distances. Keywords / student interests: sustainable agriculture, economies of scale, materials science, mechanical engineering, public policy.
- Immersive Virtual Reality at the Lehigh River Watershed – Faculty mentor: Al Bodzin, College of Education, Teaching, Learning & Technology program (No Additional Students at this time)
- This project is designing, developing, testing, and implementing an immersive virtual reality (iVR) project for STEM education to promote engagement and learning about spatial watershed features and environmental issues in the Lehigh River watershed. This project seeks to advance a novel approach using iVR learning with place-based learning and game design principles to broaden access to STEM learning experiences for adolescents and adults with a collaboration of informal STEM centers in the Lehigh Valley. Team members will learn Unity programming skills and develop immersive games for learning. Keywords / student interests: virtual reality, education technology, environmental education, games and game theory, programming, coding, STEM education.
- Safe Motherhood in Sierra Leone – Documenting Stories of Healthcare Innovation and Community Resilience – Faculty mentor: Michael Kramp, English (No Additional Students at this time)
- This team has focused on specific challenges and responsive innovations to confront the maternal health crisis in Sierra Leone, with the long-term goal of producing a festival-ready documentary film. At this point, the team is focused on three shorter docu-stories that highlight both the extent of the problem and some of the innovations. These shorter videos will be distributed in online formats to garner publicity and financial support for the project. Keywords / student interests: documentary filmmaking, cultural anthropology, storytelling, arts advocacy, public policy, communications and marketing, international relations.
2019 Mountaintop Summer Projects-- Click Image for Website or Abstract!
Summer 2019 Mountaintop Images
Get Inspired! Past Mountaintop Projects
Please note that at this time, participation in the Mountaintop program is limited primarily to Lehigh University students, with the following exceptions: 1) students from institutions with which Lehigh has a formal partnership or MOU; 2) students from other area colleges who do not need Lehigh housing; or 3) students participating in an REU experience related to a specific project who are doing their research work at Lehigh over the summer.