Engineering in context

Our mission is to cultivate science and engineering-based solutions that provide access to basic human needs, enhance lifequality, and advance the level of community resilience in the local and global community. 

The Humanitatian Engineering program at Oregon State University focuses on: education, service learning models, academic research and local/global research. To hear from our students, check out our blog. Follow our facebook page and sign up for our email list for the most current information about the program and related opportunities! 

Our program's impact (2015-2020)

  • 850 student-days of research, coursework or project work in developing countries

  • 58+ students supported in international travel

  • 28 graduate fellowships awarded to students from 14+ different faculty advisors (sponsoring travel to 15 different countries)

  • 14 student participants in international conferences

  • 2,200+ students reached through presentations about humanitarian engineering

  • 1,200+ people reached through presentations for public, alumni

  • 12 international-themed graduate research topics studied

  • 3 Peace Corps Master’s International Students mentored

  • 16 international senior capstone project teams mentored

  • 9 faculty teaching/co-teaching a humanitarian engineering, science and technology (HEST) course

  • 8 HEST courses (201, 310, 320, 411/511, 412/512, 241/541, 242/542, 444/544)

  • Engineers Without Borders projects mentored as faculty co-adviser

  • interdisciplinary/dual graduate degrees awarded

  • 12+ international partner NGOs

  • 3 international social enterprise partners

  • 25+ funded international visiting exchange scholars at OSU (graduate students)

  • ~70% women and underrepresented engineering students in HEST courses, projects, and fellowship programs

About our work

Increasingly, we’ve found that the students at Oregon State University are seeking ways to make a lasting impact on our world. In response to this demand, a diverse group of faculty from engineering, humanities, public health, forestry and has worked together to launch this humanitarian engineering program.  

We define humanitarian engineering as the co-development of science or engineering-based solutions to improve the human condition, namely through improved access to basic human needs (e.g., clean water, clean energy), an improved quality of life, or improved level of community resilience (e.g. disaster mitigation, economic resilience).

While the greatest needs often lie in the developing world, we recognize that needs exist within our borders, too, so our program is consciously both global and local in orientation. The importance of co-developing solutions through active community engagement and sensitivity to context is critical in any setting.

Oregon State is well suited to harness education and empower students to participate in solving global development problems because of our tradition of interdisciplinary research and education, a campus ethos of engaged service, and faculty and student interest. Student organizations such as OSU’s award-winning Engineers Without Borders chapter are already working on water, energy, or other projects in the developing world. 

Our recent efforts to offer expanded educational and research opportunities for OSU students to engage meaningfully in service to the local and global community have struck a chord with both students and faculty. Oregon State faculty have been working at the cutting edge in international development or humanitarian engineering-related settings for many years, and now these efforts are becoming well-coordinated across campus.

Please see the undergraduate or graduate programming page for more details on opportunities for students, view our upcoming courses, and check our facebook page for announcements, interesting links or opportunities. Students from any major and at any level are welcome to join us!

We’re thrilled with the progress we’ve made establishing such a path-breaking climate for humanitarian engineering at Oregon State through engaged research and interdisciplinary curriculum development. We’ve come a long way — but have much left to do. So keep an eye on us, and please feel free to contact Prof. Nordica MacCarty, with any questions about our program.