Student Internships


CSS has developed an innovative internship program that combines its research activities with the development of future professionals. The Sustainable Systems Internship Program provides graduate and undergraduate students with opportunities to perform quality work and gain practical experience enabling them to assist their future employers in making more informed decisions in the following areas:

  • Sustainable development
  • Industrial ecology
  • Renewable energy & materials
  • Life cycle assessment, design and management
  • Pollution prevention

As a CSS intern, students have the opportunity to work directly with a corporate, governmental or non-profit sponsor institution. Past sponsors include 3M, American Automobile Manufacturers Association, Champion International Corporation, DaimlerChrysler Corporation, E.B. Eddy Paper Corporation, Federal Railroad Administration, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, Guardian Industries, Mead Publishing Paper Division, MI Department of Environmental Quality, National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Optical Imaging Systems, Rock-Tenn Corporation, Steelcase, Stone Container Corporation, U.S. EPA and the Xerox Corporation.

To view a list of past internships, click on Intern Roster.


We currently have ONE open position at the Center for Sustainable Systems. Bookmark this page and check back periodically for any new postings for summer 2015 internships.


Sponsor: The Center for Sustainable Systems
Location: UM Central Campus

The Center for Sustainable Systems has a Research Assistant position available for a graduate student in Sustainability Science or Engineering to assist on a sponsored project entitled, Optimizing the environmental performance of food product-package systems: A life cycle assessment of the tradeoffs between packaging design and food waste.

Recent emphasis on packaging light weighting and recyclability may be overshadowing a far greater influence of packaging on sustainability: product waste reduction through product protection and safe and efficient product delivery.  Often, the life cycle environmental impacts of product-package systems are dominated by production of the product itself; this is particularly true for many food products.  We hypothesize that there are opportunities to improve the environmental benefits of food packaging systems by optimizing design parameters based on the full life cycle impact of the combined food product-package system. We will develop a life cycle assessment model capable of evaluating the full-system environmental trade-offs between packaging design and food waste.  Through scan-level consideration of the range of food types and packaging design options and detailed assessment of specific case studies, we will demonstrate opportunities for packaging innovation to reduce system environmental impacts by decreasing food waste across food processing, retail and consumer stages.

Job duties:

  • Conduct independent research under the guidance of project manager
  • Perform literature searches, summarizing findings and extracting relevant data
  • Engage with food system stakeholders to gather knowledge and data
  • Attend regular web-based check-in meeting with project manager

Intern must have graduate standing in Sustainability Science or Engineering.  Candidate must be able to work independently.  Familiarity with Life Cycle Assessment and Industrial Ecology concepts is required and completion of Industrial Ecology course (NRE557/CEE586) is highly desirable.  Candidate must be competent with spreadsheets (Excel) and data management.  Prior experience with food industry is desired.

Research Assistant Pay:  Pay is $17 per hour. Level of effort will be 10-15 hours per week during academic terms, and up to 40 hours per week in Summer 2015.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: 8:00 AM, Tuesday, November 11, 2014
INTERVIEWS: November 13, 2014
NOTIFICATION: November 17, 2014
TERM: The select candidate will start as soon as possible, with funding available through the following semesters: F’14, W’15, S’15, F’15, W’16, F’16, W’17. There is potential for this project to become a Master’s thesis.



Visit: and complete the on-line webform including attachment of resume and transcripts. If you wish to include an optional cover letter, please combine it with your resume document.  Please use the following file naming convention:  Lastname_Firstname_RESUME or Lastname_Firstname_TRANSCRIPT. Failure to follow this naming convention will render your application ineligible.