For this academic year, Oregon State University’s College of Engineering has developed and begun a humanitarian engineering program for undergraduate students, allowing them to apply their studies to benefit those in need.
In recent years, as young adults and students steadily increase in awareness and familiarity with the world around them, aspiring engineers have sought out ways to use their work to help others, especially on a global scale. A few universities, upon observing this trend, have responded by expanding their offerings to such engineering students, including Oregon State.
Students minoring in this program analyze case studies of development projects, in classes that consider the socio-cultural, economic, environmental and resource management factors involved in their work.
As a program with many opportunities to get involved, the humanitarian engineering minor “opens many more doors and perspectives with how we look at engineering,” says Grace Burleson, a mechanical engineering major graduating from Oregon State. “I began research in humanitarian engineering and landed an internship in Uganda, working where I developed a sustainable business plan for the construction, distribution and maintenance of BioSand water filters.”
Many more like Grace are already starting their work while earning their accredited engineering degree. Student organizations such as Oregon State’s award-winning Engineers Without Borders chapter and the American Society of Civil Engineering have worked on beneficial projects such as providing water and energy in developing countries.
In addition to the current program being put in place, Oregon State offers a Peace Corps Master’s International engineering program: one of ten universities in the nation to offer this program allowing graduate students in multiple disciplines to earn their master’s while serving a full 27-month term in the Peace Corps.
As a result of the many developing opportunities for engineering, the humanitarian engineering program has attracted more diversity among engineering students, especially women.