Giving Compass' Take:

• Tom Vander Ark, writing for Getting Smart, explores the concept of humanitarian engineering, in which programs are teaching engineering students how to address social problems. 

•  How can donors help expand humanitarian engineering programs?  

• Read about how to teach the future generation of engineers. 

Dr. Juan Lucena leads Humanitarian Engineering (HE) at Colorado School of Mines. The program brings together engineering and social science professors to transform the ways engineers are taught to think, define and solve problems with communities.

This summer, with the support of an NSF grant, Lucena and HE co-director Dr. Jessica Smith, along with other professors from Mines, the US Air Force Academy and Univ of Colorado, will work with Colombian miners to develop more productive and sustainable practices.

Humanitarian Engineering at Mines is part of a relatively new division, Engineering Design & Society, that is also home to Design@Mines, a sequence of courses that develop creativity and problem-solving skills beginning with Cornerstone, an introduction to engineering, and concluding with Capstone, a senior design project. Humanitarian Engineering has two additional design-related courses, one focusing on problem definition (often the most ignored step in engineering education) and one on Projects for People, where some of the solutions to problems faced by ASM miners have been first conceived.

Lucena’s goal is to transform engineering education so engineers become politically relevant by designing, building and operating socially just and sustainable technologies. His 2017 co-authored book, Engineering Justice presents an examination of how politics, culture, and other social issues are inherent in the education and practice of engineering and how educators can integrate social justice into the engineering curriculum.

Mines has a well-recognized humanitarian engineering program, but other universities including ASU, Baylor, and Ohio State feature courses in humanitarian engineering. What sets the HE program at Mines apart is its commitment to integrate engineering and social justice, its engagement with the extractive industries and its faculty influence in this emergent field through their scholarship and research.

Read the full article about humanitarian engineering by Tom Vander Ark at Getting Smart.