Thornton Hall A219
​P.O. Box 400744
Charlottesville, VA 22904
Teaching and Assessing Student Design Thinking Carbon neutrality: A necessary step towards survival


James Groves is a leading university educator in the field of sustainable development. In the classroom he engages with students across disciplines and educates them about sustainable energy systems. His overarching goal is to help "people and planet" avoid the worst impacts of humanity's ever increasing hunger for "more power"! His current instructional efforts include Introduction to Sustainable Energy Systems and The Global Context of Clean Energy Materials.

James Groves' scholarly interests include a focus upon the impacts of climate change upon the mid-Atlantic region. He is currently developing an engineering ethics case study related to his local climate change research. He is also keenly interested in the people and planet impacts of using engineered materials for sustainable energy solutions. As society transitions to clean energy, will its thirst for the needed materials lead to new, devastating human and environmental impacts?

While working on his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering, he co-invented directed vapor deposition technology and subsequently co-founded Directed Vapor Technologies International. His work with directed vapor deposition led to the granting of four U.S. patents and two additional international patents.

Dr. Groves has been active in the scholarly field of design thinking. He has contributed to a national effort to develop a simple, structured framework for design thinking and project management. In several courses he has taught students how that framework can be used to guide the design of a wide array of products and project solutions. In the design arena, he helps students to consider how alignment of their personal values with their project can increase their opportunity to make a positive impact upon the world. He especially enjoys working with students who seek to focus their design thinking on sustainable energy problems and opportunities.

For more than a decade, Dr. Groves administered distance learning in UVA’s engineering school, serving two years as Associate Dean for Online Innovation. Those administrative efforts have translated into broad university adoption of a set of technology solutions that he initially conceived of and designed. They have also allowed the engineering school to now place among the top 15 in multiple rankings of online graduate engineering programs. Dr. Groves was founder of Engineers PRODUCED in Virginia, an initiative which explored the use of state-of-the-art online communication and collaboration solutions for the delivery of undergraduate education to underserved communities. The PRODUCED program demonstrated a strong ability to attract non-traditional, first generation, and low and moderate income students. The program also demonstrated how engineering corporations and higher education could work together for collaborative preparation of students for the workforce without the need for student loan debt, educating and ultimately employing students in their home communities.


Ph.D. Materials Science and Engineering, Univ. of Virginia, 1998

M.S. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Univ. of Virginia, 1992

B.S.E. cum laude, Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, Political Science, Duke Univ., 1990

My focus is upon student education, teaching students about sustainable energy, the materials of sustainable energy systems, and the design of sustainable systems solutions. I emphasize the close coupling between humanity's use of energy and its impact upon people and the planet. In recent years, I have sought to better understand the mid-Atlantic regional impacts of climate change. Through my research and scholarship I explore more sustainable solutions for a modern, prosperous life.

James F. Groves Associate Professor

Research Interests

The intersection of engineering ethics, climate change, and biodiversity loss

Selected Publications

“Directed vapor deposition of electron beam evaporant,” U.S. Patent 5,534,314, Issued 1996. H.N.G. Wadley, J.F. Groves
“A process and apparatus for plasma activated depositions in a vacuum,” U.S. Patent 7,014,889, Issued 2006. J.F. Groves, D.D. Hass, H.N.G. Wadley, G. Mattausch, H. Morgner, S. Schiller
“Method and apparatus for efficient application of substrate coating,” U.S. Patent 7,879,411, Issued 2011. D.D. Hass, J.F. Groves, H.N.G. Wadley
“Focused Ion Beam Directed Self-Assembly of Cu2O islands on SrTiO3 (100),” Applied Physics Letters, 84(25), pp. 5213-5215, 2004. Y. Du, S. Atha, R. Hull, J.F. Groves, I. Lyubinetsky, D.R. Baer
“Work-in-Progress – Expansion of an undergraduate engineering degree program to include fully online studies at a distance,” Proceedings of the ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, pp. T4D-1 – T4D-3, 2010. S.L. Moore, J.F. Groves
Integrating ethics and policy into nanotechnology education, Journal of Nano Education 4(1-2), pp. 24-32, 2012. M.E. Gorman, N. Swami, J.M.G. Cohoon, J. Groves, K. Squibbs, P.H. Werhane
“Using an engineering design process portfolio scoring rubric to structure online high school engineering education,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference, 7 pages, 2014. J.F. Groves, L.R. Abts, G.L. Goldberg
"Responsible materials use in sustainable energy systems." (2022). Pathways to Research in Sustainability SUS105, 1-13. J.F. Groves

Courses Taught

STS 2050 / GSVS 2050 Introduction to Sustainable Energy Systems 2018—Present
STS 3210 / GSVS 3210 The Global Context of Clean Energy Materials 2019—Present
ENGR 1520 Explorations in Engineering (an outreach course for 11th and 12th grade students) 2005—Present
ENGR 4010 & 4020 / GSVS 3010 & 3020 Multidisciplinary Design Thinking I and II 2015—2022
STS 2500 Leadership, Design, and Value(s) 2017
MSE 2090 Introduction to the Science and Engineering of Materials 2005—2017
ENGR 1620 Introduction to Engineering 2004


Hartfield-Jefferson Scholars Teaching Prize - Jefferson Scholars Foundation, Charlottesville, VA. 2015
Leadership in Education Award - Southern Piedmont Technology Council, Danville, VA. 2011
Outstanding Young Engineering Graduate Award - University of Virginia 2003

Featured Grants & Projects

GIS resource development for building performance sustainability education In support of the University of Virginia student-led Greener Housing Coalition, this small grant recently allowed a UVA student to spend the summer of 2022 developing a geographic information system (GIS) resource that tracks and visualizes the carbon footprint of off-grounds student residences at the University of Virginia.