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The Sustainable Engineer 5 Day Intensive Course

The Sustainable Engineer primarily encompasses the skill of creating sustainable solutions from salvage.  This is the person on a team or in a community who makes everyone else’s life much easier.  Whether it is understanding the basics of off-grid building and construction, to ropes, levers, pulleys and lashings, to 12V power generation, to communications, radios and antennas, to water purification and sanitation for a group of people, to transportation, motors and engines – the Primitive Engineer is the problem solver of physical problems and obstacles.

post disaster engineering

The Primitive Engineer Level 1 class has a prerequisite of EITHER the Primitive Core Basic OR the Urban Core Basic. You must have completed or be enrolled in either of these two programs.  The Urban Core Basic 5-Day intensive will follow this week course, and this will also be offered in the Immersion Studies program for students wanting to take multiple courses at once at a discounted tuition.


This spring’s Sustainable Engineer Level 1 class will span a full five days, and cover primarily 3 areas:  Basic construction concepts, salvage-based water filtration for a community and generating power from mechanical means (primarily wind and bicycle).  Along with the very intensive hands-on components to this course and the structures and components we will build, re-use, repair and recycle, we will also be working as a team and learning how to pack an engineer’s toolkit for a remote or post-disaster area.

We will be pushing students to always be ready to work as an engineer even in less-than-optimal environments.  Off-grid engineering students will probably be caught by surprise at least once by some of the scenario problem solving situations they will find themselves in the middle of, and this will create a rich learning experience that will prepare students to be able to deal with a wide spectrum of engineering problems no matter where they may find themselves.

Although overnight camping is not required for this class, expect long days (as much as 12 hours) as we solve problems, analyze, group-think, build and repair.

Sustainable Engineer Level 1 Concepts:

  • Building with wood, stone, metal and earth
  • The six simple machines and their applications off-grid (Incline Plane, Screw, Wedge, Pulley, Wheel and Axle, Lever)
  • Design and prototyping process to build sustainable structures – shelters, bridges and other useful structures
  • Fasteners of all types – Ropes, lashings, primitive nails, wire, screws, squaring joints, glues
  • Advanced water purification – the full slow-sand filtration system
  • Mechanical Power – Creating the mechanical side of power generation (wind, bicycle, etc.)
  • Electricity and Power from salvage
  • Passive and active components of electrical power and how to make them both work for you
  • Using a systems approach to your own energy grid
  • How to test and the importance of testing/prototyping
  • How to repair a broken piece of electronics without any knowledge of the design
  • Building crude capacitors and resistors, continuity testers
  • Building a crude impedance and power meter
  • Converting mechanical energy into work energy

For full course description and packing gear list, visit our course catalog here


Food is not provided.


Course Dates:

5-Day Intensive — April 20 – 24th, 2015.


How To Register:

Tuition is $550/person, or $1,000 for a pair for the full Level 1 course (when paid in full, in advance). A $275 deposit is due upon registration to hold your spot in the course.


To pre- register with a check or money order, email us for the mailing address here:





To pay with Venmo, E-invoice, check or money order, please contact us here: