James Day – Corvallis Gazette Times – Oregon State University has a launched a humanitarian engineering program that will encourage students to make an impact — both locally and globally.
The program, which university officials say is rare in U.S. education, will allow students to minor in the field after taking classes that emphasize the importance of socio-cultural, economic, environmental and resource management factors.
Work in ethics, social justice and cross-cultural communication are also part of the program.
Humanitarian engineering emphasizes science and engineering-based solutions that help to improve the human condition, access to basic human needs, the quality of life or level of community resilience. OSU’s program is one of only a few in the nation based in an academic curriculum.
As a formalized academic program, humanitarian engineering will contribute to the effort of the OSU College of Engineering to become a recognized model as an inclusive and collaborative community, said mechanical engineering Professor Kendra Sharp.
“The program is attracting a more diverse group of prospective students than is typically attracted to engineering, including women,” said Sharp, who directs the program, and was appointed last year the first Richard and Gretchen Evans Professor in Humanitarian Engineering.
The program is possible because of a $1.5 million donation from the Evanses, both OSU graduates, that allowed the university to endow Sharp’s professorship. Earlier gifts from the Evanses enabled OSU to begin work on the program two years ago.
OSU is also one of just 10 universities nationwide to offer a Peace Corps Master’s International program in engineering. The university was the first in Oregon to join this initiative, which allows graduate students in several disciplines to get a master’s degree while doing a full 27-month term of service in the Peace Corps.