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The first ETHOS, June 2000
Aprovecho Research Center, Cottage Grove, OR. Not pictured (taking the photo): Dean Still

The History of ETHOS

Since its beginning in 1999, ETHOS continues to be a friendly annual meeting that seeks to cultivate a welcoming environment for networking and information sharing, which is necessary to create trust and lasting partnerships. Participants from industry, academia, non-government organizations (NGOs), and funding organizations focused on household energy share updates and ideas and discuss current challenges. During these forums, a variety of stakeholders from different backgrounds collaborate to reinforce the capacity to translate best practices in design, testing, and manufacturing to implementation. This multi-layered discussion enables challenges from the field to become topics for academics to research, for designers find needed organizations to field test their prototypes, and for funders meet and vet potential partners. In past ETHOS meetings, organizations such as the US EPA, WFP, Shell, British Petroleum, GIZ, Philips, and many more have formed partnerships that have helped with design, testing, and dissemination spanning decades.


In addition to facilitating these face-to-face meetings that flourish into partnerships, ETHOS provides an environment for funders and projects to share important lessons learned. This allows everyone who attends to learn from each other and helps to ensure subsequent studies and field tests are not repeating the same mistakes. In fostering this collaborative environment, ETHOS increases the effectiveness that future scientific investigations have on real-life problems. 


Although ETHOS has been around for over 20 years, the annual meetings keep up to date with current issues and research and focus on what is important in the world today. For example, Dr. Tami Bond has introduced ETHOS to climate change and the impact biomass cookstoves, methane, and renewability of fuels. Other experts share developments on a wide variety of relevant ant timely topics, including forced-air combustion, pay-as-you-go payment models, gender issues, and many more.


ETHOS 2001
Seattle University, Seattle, WA


The history of Engineers in Technical and Humanitarian Opportunities of Service (ETHOS) can be traced back to 1999. Wanting to find a partner to investigate thermal efficiency in cookstoves, Dr. Mark Bryden from Iowa State University (ISU) contacted Aprovecho Research Center (ARC). ARC had published a study that had caught his eye, which showed that high mass stoves were often outperformed by the three stone fire when sheltered from the wind. In order to be able to perform this research, ARC was trained on how to conduct test stoves by Dr. Larry Winiarski using the International Testing Standards WBT 1987. This means they were well versed in conducting reputable cookstove tests, and beginning to use them to help projects develop better stove designs. 


When Dr. Bryden visited ARC at Hazelton Road near Cottage Grove, Oregon, their partnership began, and ETHOS was formed. During the early stages of ETHOS, Dr. Nordica MacCarty, who spent a summer investigating Rocket Stoves, and interns from the University of Dayton all conducted their research out of ARC. This was purposefully done by ETHOS to help bridge the gap between lab tests and field work, facilitating communication between the two sides. The lack of connection and interaction between the lab and field was obvious to everyone in the sector and was frequently mentioned in literature. 


In trying to solve this problem, Dr. Bryden and Dean Still decided that a yearly conference with the intention of increasing communication between the lab and field could be helpful. The first official ETHOS meeting was held at ARC in June 2000. In attendance were: Peter Scott (BURN); Ken Goyer (Aid Africa); Don O'Neal (HELPS International); Mike Hatfield (StoveTeam International); Dr. Larry Winiarski and Dean Still (ARC); Dr. Mark Bryden (ISU) and Dr. Nordica MacCarty (ARC/OSU). The next year, in 2001, the second meeting was held at Seattle University, before we found our permanent “home” during our third forum at Northwest University.


We invite you to join our friendly community to share your ideas and work with us to help provide cleaner cooking options for households across the world! Hope to see you soon.

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