10 Humanitarian Engineering Schools You Should Know

Humanitarian programs at some of the top schools in the U.S. are gaining in popularity. We’ve compiled a list of our ten favorite colleges that offer humanitarian engineering programs. Students from each of these schools are tackling profound humanitarian challenges and completing projects that will have a lasting positive impact on millions of people worldwide.

After all, if you’re going to spend a lot of dough on education, what better way to get your money’s worth than studying how to make the world a better place?


MIT Humanitarian EngineeringMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):

MIT’s Humanitarian Response Lab focuses on understanding and improving the supply chains that connect both public and private markets to the people who need the products and services the most.

Some of their recent projects include organizing Ebola training and supplies for hospitals in Liberia, creating and publishing models and metrics for humanitarian response capacity, and exploring how to improve post-harvest food storage in Uganda.


Stanford Humanitarian EngineeringStanford:

Stanford’s Global Health Community puts young innovators to work solving real-world problems in the international healthcare sector. Stanford engineers are at work on various projects and positively impacting the quality of life for people around the world.

Some more recent endeavors include developing a 20-cent, entirely hand-powered blood centrifuge that requires no electricity, and researching the parasite that causes schistosomiasis (a widespread but often neglected tropical disease affecting millions worldwide).


Dartmouth Humanitarian EngineeringDartmouth:

Dartmouth Human Engineering teams are made up of students and faculty from throughout the school who share a passion for solving global problems. Members strive to use a balanced approach to design and technology implementation and consider the impact each solution may have on the economy, environment, and culture of the area they serve.

So far the team has tackled humanitarian issues in multiple fields including hydropower, bioenergy, and water purification.


Penn State Humanitarian EngineeringPenn State:

The Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship branch of Penn State includes both students and faculty from all over campus. Together HESE teams use an evidence-based and data-driven approach to solving some of the world’s most pressing humanitarian issues including access to healthcare and food. 

Recent HESE member projects include designing and building affordable greenhouses for farmers in East Africa, developing a low-cost test strip that detects UTIs, and establishing a solar panel rating system to vet the quality of panels reaching the market and raise awareness about solar power in Burkina Faso and Africa as a whole.



Ohio State Humanitarian EngineeringOhio State:

Members of OSU’s Humanitarian Engineering Center believe in bringing together the latest technology and cutting-edge engineering to improve life for people all over the world. Using a science-focused approach and thoughtful design, HEC members promote human dignity and human rights while challenging widespread problems such as poverty, corruption, and human trafficking among others. 

OSU HEC teams have completed humanitarian projects in the U.S. and abroad. Some of their most prominent international projects include building an aquaponics system in Choluteca that provides fish and vegetables to the local community and helping to develop a low-cost prosthetic to relieve amputee suffering worldwide.


Mines College Humanitarian EngineeringMines College:

Giving a little shout out to one of our neighbors here in Colorado! The Humanitarian Engineering program at Mines gives students the opportunity to put their creativity and ingenuity to work while creating sustainable solutions for communities worldwide.

In addition to completing international humanitarian aid projects, Mines is renowned for its Peace Corps Prep course that has assisted numerous students in attaining the hands-on experience they need to transition seamlessly from an educational setting into the fast-paced humanitarian aid industry.


Colorado Univeristy Humanitarian EngineeringColorado University – Boulder:

The Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities at CU-Boulder is a hotbed of humanitarian innovation and design. The program combines education and research with on-the-ground, in field experience. And it just so happens CU-Boulder is another one of our fantastic neighbors!

Some of the MCEDC’s most interesting research focuses on preventative measures and design development. Such as examining pre-disaster conditions that enable communities to recover from disasters more quickly and an NSF-funded project that focuses on creating a new building life-cycle assessment that will help communities to balance hazard-resistance
methods with environmental impact.


Oregon State University OSU Humanitarian EngineeringOregon State University:

The Humanitarian Engineering branch of OSU gives students the opportunity to make a measurable impact on the world around them. Members of HEST focus primarily on improving access to basic human rights including clean water and clean energy as well as improving the resilience of communities through disaster mitigation.

HEST members are working on finding solutions to a variety of international issues including the implementation and adoption of clean-burning fuels and cookstoves in Guatemala and developing a plan to assess the potential for hydropower generation and optimal utilization in Pakistan.


Dayton Humanitarian EngineeringUniversity of Dayton:

Members of Dayton’s ETHOS Center are challenged to put their technical knowledge to work on widespread humanitarian issues. By combining education, research, and hands-on experience, students are fast-tracked into the industry and armed with the skills to take their ideas from the classroom into the real world.

Students have headed a number of projects including designing, constructing, and testing a solar-powered aeroponics system in Bangalore and redesigning an ethanol-carbon solar thermal absorptive refrigeration (STAR) system to keep vaccines from spoiling during blackouts in rural India.


Arizona State ASU Humanitarian EngineeringArizona State University:

ASU’s GlobalResolve began as a social entrepreneurship program designed to give students the chance to put their education to use in a real-world environment and connect with impoverished people locally and abroad. Since the program began in 2006, it has evolved into one of the most dynamic and celebrated student-driven programs at ASU.

GlobalResolve members have already completed numerous projects including designing a low-cost, low-energy water purification system (the DewVap) for the village of Fawomanye and helping to produce and sell ethanol gel fuel in the village of Domeabra.




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