Contextual Engineering
Research Group

Research Projects


Taking place domestically and internationally, research initiatives by students and staff at CERG span a wide variety of applications, particularly in aiding rural communities. Many of these include analyses of contexual factors and infrastructural projects.

Contextualized Design of Rural Energy Systems for Improved Sustainability

Contextualized Design of Rural Energy Systems for Improved Sustainability

This project is a case study of energy needs in the Navajo Nation aimed at better understanding how the local social, political, cultural, and economic factors influence the selection of the most appropriate engineering design solutions for rural and remote communities.


Researcher(s): Abhi Chattopadhyay, Julissa Nunez

Impact of Contextualized Water Infrastructure Design on Community Disaster Resilience

Impact of Contextualized Water Infrastructure Design on Community Disaster Resilience

This research aims to increase community-valued disaster resilience by utilizing the contextual engineering design process in conjunction with the client communities. A case study, background and ethnographic research has begun with multiple communities in Honduras recovering from Hurricanes Eta and Iota.


Researcher(s): Emily Lawson-Bulten

Rural Context Identification for Climate Change Adaption

Rural Context Identification for Climate Change Adaption

This project investigates community context using a dual approach method. Researchers seek to learn from children and community leaders in order to gain an understanding of the community. This project is a subgroup of the Rural Climate Change project that aims to create a model to allow stakeholders to predict the impact of climate change on a rural community.


Researcher(s): Aisha Syed, Kyle Erkonen, Quinn Ouyang, Erica Sotos, Jacob Harris

Contextual Engineering-Based Solar Design

Contextual Engineering-Based Solar Design

This project applies the Contextual Engineering processes to a solar PV grid design in Ntisaw, Cameroon. By working closely with the community and other stakeholders, conducting surveys, and researching successful projects in nearby areas, researchers hope to create a system and business model that helps the community thrive for years to come.


Researcher(s): Abigail Mohan, Annabelle Epplin

Contextual Analysis of Articles Reporting on the Navajo Water Crisis

Contextual Analysis of Articles Reporting on the Navajo Water Crisis

This is a review of how the Navajo water crisis is portrayed in mainstream media before and after the COVID-19 pandemic started, using a qualitative analysis program to assign the tone of the authors from differing news sources. The project goal is to assess how a specific narrative is filtered down through different perspectives before it reaches the public, including potential project engineers for future Navajo water projects.


Researcher(s): Syd Trimble

Guatemalan Cardamom Dryer Project

Guatemalan Cardamom Dryer Project

This project investigates the grain drying practices of the farmers in Guatemala and focuses on developing a new dryer that takes into consideration the current socio-economic contexts of the community and aims at making the process more sustainable and reliable for the communities involved.


Researcher(s): Allan Montufar, Aaryaman Patel, Alec McKay

Contextualization of Commercial Electric Vehicle Charger Use and Design

Contextualization of Commercial Electric Vehicle Charger Use and Design

Researchers conduct a contextual analysis of electric vehicle use in varying US communities, with the objective of developing strategies to reduce energy demand costs at charging stations and promote equitable electric vehicle adoption.


Researcher(s): Muhammad Talal Khalid, Arin Rzonca, Jessica Altenberg

El Durazno Wind Turbine Project

El Durazno Wind Turbine Project

This project is prototyping and testing a wind turbine made from repurposed car parts. It aims to make a turbines capable of powering a pump for a water distribution system in El Durazno, Guatemala. After establishing the power generation, our goal is to continue with the design of the distribution system to provide reliable water to the community. Designs are being tested and implemented with collaboration from a local nonprofit.


Researcher(s): Abhiroop Chattopadhyay, Saanil Joshi, Samantha Morrow, Emily Neeson, Taylor Shimkus, Alex Timmons, Ann Witmer

Using GIS to Assess Dynamic Accessibility in Public Transportation for Underrepresented Groups

Using GIS to Assess Dynamic Accessibility in Public Transportation for Underrepresented Groups

This is a case study addressing the dynamic accessibility provided by the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District. The study addresses the need for transit services at off-peak times for spontaneous trips, considering the accessible area for different starting locations under a fixed time constraint. Dynamic accessibility was compared across geographies and socioeconomic characteristics as well as temporal considerations of off-peak travel demands.


Researcher(s): Dale Robbennolt

Coastal Resilience in the Great Lakes Region

Coastal Resilience in the Great Lakes Region

Anthropogenic forcing has led to an increase in frequency and intensity of extreme climate events, including storms and flooding. Such changes have lasting social, ecological, and economic effects on the surrounding coastal communities. We will use Contextual Engineering to identify sustainable shoreline stabilization and coastal resilience techniques appropriate for different communities along the Great Lakes.


Researcher(s): Alina Lusebrink, Kyle Thompson

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