Humanitarian Engineering Resources For Students

Interested in Humanitarian Engineering? There are many paths to an exciting and rewarding Humanitarian Engineering experience or career. Here are some resources that can help.



In Colorado

Engineers Without Borders USA (Mines chapter): EWB-USA is committed to bringing sustainable development projects to the developing world. Projects include water, waste-water, sanitation, energy, and shelter construction. EWB-Mines helps underserved communities abroad that request specific engineering expertise. EWB-MInes is currently working in Nicaragua to help villages install suspended cable bridges -- giving access to schools, hospitals, and markets during the rainy season.

Bridges to Prosperity (Mines Chapter): B2P builds literal bridges in under-served communities worldwide. On the Mines campus, B2P and Engineers Without Borders have now merged and students can build bridges by joining EWB/B2P at Mines.

Engineering World Health, Colorado School of Mines: EWH answers the needs of disadvantaged areas by providing and maintaining appropriate medical technology. Students can earn EPICS II credit by participating in medical equipment repair sessions arranged by the EWH-CSM student chapter officers.

Beyond Colorado

Technology Assist by Students, Stanford University: TABS connects Bay Area non-profit organizations and schools in need of technological assistance with the Stanford community. Although TABS focuses on technology, students majoring in non-technical fields are encouraged to bring a different set of skills to the group.

Solar Energy Club, University of Massachusetts: This student-run engineering organization is part of the Center for Sustainable Energy at the University of Massachusetts. Past projects include a solar-powered fountain, an educational bulletin board, and the Peru Project, where students designed and installed solar power stations in several mountain communities lacking electricity.

Stanford Program on Hunger (SPOON): SPOON provides thousands of meals for hungry and homeless people each year. Student volunteers transfer unused food to a central freezer where it is then picked up by the urban ministry to be served to the hungry in the local area. Guidelines on how to form a similar program at another university can be found here.


Engineers Without Borders: EWB is a network of students, educators, and professionals committed to bringing sustainable projects to the developing world. Projects involve the design and construction of water, waste-water, sanitation, energy, and shelter systems . EWB was founded at CU Boulder and has spread to almost 100 universities nationwide.

Engineers for a Sustainable World: ESW aims to reduce poverty by improving environmental, social, and economic sustainability worldwide by mobilizing engineers to address the challenges of developing communities and to promote global sustainability. EWH has spread to almost twenty chapters nationwide.

Student Pugwash, USA: SPUSA is an educational, nonprofit organization focusing on the interplay of science, technology, and public policy. By participating in a variety of local, regional, and national events , students tackle issues such as international conflict, environmental protection, genetics, research, and civil rights.

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Programs in Colorado

National Science Foundation Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarship: Eight undergraduate students will be awarded a maximum of $5000/year toward tuition and six graduate students will be awarded a maximum of $10000/year toward tuition. All awards are based on financial need. All scholarship recipients will be required to complete humanitarian engineering or outreach scientist projects under the direction of a research advisor.

Programs Beyond Colorado

Engineering Projects in Community Service, Purdue University: EPICS is a unique program in which teams of undergraduates design, build, and deploy real systems to solve engineering-based problems for local community service and education organizations. This program is the national model in engineering community service and has spread to fifteen other universities in the U.S.

Program for Community Engagement in Engineering Design, University of Michigan: Groups of 3 to 5 engineering students work closely with project sponsors and faculty members to complete a variety of community-based projects.

Teams in Engineering Service, University of California, San Diego: TIES integrates large-scale, long-term, multi-year projects into the undergraduate engineering curriculum. Multi-disciplinary teams of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors from engineering and other disciplines can participate for up to two years, receiving course and some technical elective credit.

Ethos, University of Dayton: Engineering students complete projects to increase their understanding of technology's global linkage with culture, environment, politics, society and values. Projects involving research on alternative technologies for developing countries are underway in three different undergraduate mechanical engineering courses.

Introduction to Development, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: In Amy Smith's ''D-lab'' class, undergrads learn about the politics of delivering technology to poor nations, how to speak a little Creole and the nitty-gritty of mechanical engineering; during the midsemester break, they travel to Haiti, Brazil or India. There, they will act as consultants in remote villages, helping locals solve technical problems. Oh, yes, and the students will also test village drinking water for dangerous bacteria.

Engineers for a Sustainable World, Cornell University: Engineers for a Sustainable World (formerly called Engineers Without Frontiers) is a student group, founded at Cornell in 2001 and now represented at over 60 campuses nationwide, which addresses critical global challenges such as safe drinking water, food security, energy needs, and information technology.

Humanitarian Engineering, Arizona State University: EWB-ASU was established to complete beneficial engineering projects that are completely sustainable in our own communities as well as internationally, in the process allowing ASU students to gain experience working on all aspects of real-world engineering projects, and to develop global awareness.

Engineering to the Rescue, University of New South WalesPDF versionText only version: They say the civil engineer's role and particularly the engineers and contractors who were involved with the original design and construction of the critical physical infrastructure  needs to be extended beyond infrastructure life-cycle management and sustainability to also involve first response against disasters.

Engineers Without Borders, Valparaiso University: In the Spring of 2003, VU civil engineering student Bob Yamtich was looking for a way to combine his passion for international service with engineering. Bob soon found out about Engineers Without Borders, and thought that the Valparaiso community had a need for such an organization. Bob then approached V.U. Professor Schmucker and Professor Polito, and presented his idea. The two thought is sounded good and the seeds of an EWB-VU chapter were planted.

Engineering Disaster Relief, University of Washington: Humanitarian disasters - from natural events such as the Asian Tsunami to political events such as Darfur - pose immense challenges that cross political, economic, cultural, technical, and legal boundaries.

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Programs in Colorado

Engineering for Developing Communities, University of Colorado at Boulder: A research, educational, and outreach program designed to develop globally responsible engineering students and professionals who can offer sustainable and appropriate solutions to the endemic problems faced by developing communities worldwide. 

National Science Foundation Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarship: Eight undergraduate students will be awarded a maximum of $5000/year toward tuition and six graduate students will be awarded a maximum of $10000/year toward tuition. All awards are based on financial need. All scholarship recipients will be required to complete humanitarian engineering or outreach scientist projects under the direction of a research advisor.

Programs Beyond Colorado

Doctoral program in Human Centered Design and Engineering, University of Washington: A graduate degree focused on the practice of designing and building innovative technologies and systems. "Putting people first, HCDE students and faculty research, design, and engineer interactions between humans and technology. With a focus on understanding human needs and interests, HCDE students and faculty work together to solve engineering design problems and build engineering solutions."

Peace Corps Master’s in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan Tech: Students work on a variety of projects while serving as water/sanitation volunteers with the Peace Corps. Projects are typically related to water supply, sanitation, watersheds, and erosion control problems. Students are involved in all engineering aspects of a problem, including surveying, financing, design, construction, maintenance, and legal issues.

Peace Corps Master's in Geology, Geophysics, Geological or Civil Engineering, Michigan Tech: Students can earn an M.S. in Geology, Geophysics, Geological Engineering or Civil Engineering while serving with the Peace Corps. Students complete two years of technical and non-technical coursework to prepare for their Peace Corps assignment and can follow a thesis option or a research report option to complete their degree requirements.

Master of Science in Energy Engineering (solar emphasis), University of Massachusetts: This program offers professional training to prepare students to perform state-of-the-art work on solar energy systems and is open to students who have earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering or a similar engineering discipline.

Sustainable Futures IGERT program : Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship: This program aims to integrate the disciplines of green engineering and social sciences to produce professionals who will achieve future environmental, industrial, and societal sustainability. IGERT students receive an annual stipend of $30,000 and a cost-of-education allowance used to pay tuition and fees.

Programs Beyond the US

Peace Corps Master's International (PCMI): Grants students the opportunity to complete a master's degree with overseas service available in a variety of fields at over 40 academic institutions in the U.S. After completing the initial coursework, students travel to their respective site and begin training. Academic requirements are shaped by project assignments which last for two years.

Department of International Development Engineering, University of Tokyo: Curriculum covers broad areas of engineering that are necessary for countries (especially in Asia) to further develop their industry. Engineers in this field are expected to play active roles in international cooperation between countries. 50% of the undergraduate students of the department are overseas students.

Master of Science in Sustainable Energy Engineering, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden: This program has two parallel study majors, both having a strong environmental focus: Sustainable Power Generation and Sustainable Energy Utilization in the Built Environment. Students learn state-of-the-art education in the fields of power generation and energy utilization in the built environment by means of economically and environmentally sustainable systems.

Master of Science in Humanitarinan Engineering, Queen's University, Canada: Humanitarian Engineering is a new Masters program in development that will be the first of its kind in Canada.

University College of Borås, School of Engineering, Masters in Implementation of Sustainable Technology: This program includes basic studies in sustainability, energy, environmental, and information management. Students usually choose a specialization of sustainable technology and move to the country where the education is offered. The second year consists of a project, performed on location and devoted to implementation of sustainable technology.

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Programs in Colorado

Peace Corps Master’s International, Colorado State University, Fort Collins: PCMI integrates graduate study with international development field practice in International Agriculture Development, Teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language, Food Science & Human Nutrition or Forestry and Natural Resources. At least two semesters of course work are taken at CSU, and the remaining time is spent as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Programs Beyond Colorado

Inter-University Initiative on Humanitarian Studies and Field Practice – Harvard, Tufts, MIT: This inter-university program is designed for graduate students seeking an education in the evolving and multidisciplinary field of humanitarian studies. Gives students a solid foundation in humanitarian studies while allowing for flexibility based on individual interest. A three-month field placement in humanitarian response is an integral part of the program.

University of Washington – Law of Sustainable Development Graduate Program: This is the first graduate program at a U.S. law school to focus on sustainable and international development. The program offers courses in areas of the student’s interest including law, public policy, economics, political science, international studies, sociology, public health, and environmental studies.

School for International Training, Brattleboro, Vermont: SIT Grants several master’s degrees: M.A. in Conflict Transformation; M.A. in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management; M.A. in Sustainable Development; M.S. in Organizational Management. Working closely with a faculty advisor, students design an individual curriculum that draws on courses from two or more SIT degree programs.

Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance, Tufts University: A one-year degree program for mid-career professionals to develop their knowledge and skills in the areas of nutrition, food policy, and economic, political and social analysis, as they relate to humanitarian action in famines, complex emergencies and other disasters.

The Graduate Certificate in Sustainability, Michigan Tech: Formally recognizes curricular breadth in policy, societal and economic systems, environmental systems, and industrial systems. Students also have the opportunity to achieve specialized education in engineering, forestry, science, social sciences, humanities, business, and economics.

Programs Beyond the US

Peace Corps Master’s International (PCMI): PCMI grants students the opportunity to complete a master's degree with overseas service available in a variety of fields at over 40 academic institutions in the U.S. After completing the initial coursework, students travel to their respective site and begin training. Academic requirements are shaped by project assignments, which last for two years.

MSc/Graduate Diploma in Development Practices, Oxford Brookes University: This interdisciplinary program has a core emphasis on community development practice and gives students an opportunity to combine the study of urban development with humanitarian emergencies. Students reflect upon appropriate practice within urban poverty and complex emergencies.

Master's Degree in Applied Community Change and Conservation, Future Generations: This program is designed for students to improve their knowledge and skills of community change and conservation. Each student joins an international peer cohort of 20 to 30 students and participates in three primary modes of learning: interactive online instruction, site-based instruction, and ongoing applied practicum work.

Graduate Study in Sustainable Development – University of New South Whales, Australia: This program gives graduate students the opportunity to improve their skills in the application of sustainable development in their chosen fields. Approached from an international perspective, the program places special emphasis on the developing areas of South East Asia.

Forced Migration Studies Program, University of Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa: This interdisciplinary program focuses on social science and the philosophical, historical, methodological and managerial questions surrounding displacement and humanitarian aid. FMSP operates in conjunction with the Feinstein International Famine Center at Tufts University and offers several post-graduate degree options.

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Engineering World Health Summer Institute: The program starts with an intense one-month training program in Costa Rica, where students receive technical training in the operation and repair of medical equipment. Following the month of training, students head to a developing-world hospital where they work to repair instruments, conduct inventory, and conduct other biomedical engineering tasks.

Institute for Village Studies: This program provides learning experiences to students through service, exploration, and study in developing countries in Central America and Asia. Students can earn a semester or more of credit through individualized study and research in a culturally and biologically diverse setting.

ProWorld Service Corps: This program offers 2-26 week program in Peru, Belize, and Mexico. The three program models are: Semester in Peru – a fully accredited academic program with independent and group projects. NGO Internships – an independent and small team project based on community need. Group Trips – a team of volunteers working on large community projects .

World Pulse – Youth Ambassadors Program: This program engages people ages 18-26 from low-income families and diverse ethnic backgrounds in local and international voluntary community service work and leadership-building activities. Participants work together several times a month on community projects. In the summer, they travel abroad to complete an international service project .

Grupo Fenix: University-trained engineers are linked with local communities to research, develop, and apply appropriate solar and renewable energy technologies in Nicaragua and Central America. A cademic internships and long-term volunteer positions are available (minimum 10-week stay). Students are encouraged to introduce their own relevant project ideas.

Youth Encounter on Sustainability - Latin AmericaPDF versionText only version: This two-week course for college students covers topics in the fields of natural and human systems, energy and materials, health and nutrition, living space, the roles of governance, civil society, the economy in sustainability issues, and the current development paths and future challenges for Costa Rica and the Latin-American region.

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Opportunities in Colorado

Project Cure: The C.U.R.E. Corps is a team of individuals, families, civic and church groups who share compassion for people around the world in desperate need of medical attention. Volunteers work to identify, solicit, collect, sort and distribute medical surplus according to the imperative needs of the world.

Opportunities Beyond Colorado

American Red Cross: This organization helps people in various communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies that may be local, state-level, national, or international in nature. A wide variety of volunteer opportunities are available, including emergency and international services, biomedical services, information technology, and community services.

World Pulse Magazine: World Pulse's mission is to unleash the global power and leadership of women and youth through media. This resource promotes solutions-based coverage of international issues by leading women and visionary children. World Pulse offers a variety of unique volunteer positions for college students and other interested individuals.

Opportunities Beyond the US

Peace Corps: The Peace Corps helps people of interested countries meet their needs for trained citizens while promoting a mutual understanding of U.S. citizens and citizens of other nations. Volunteers work abroad for two years work in the following areas: education, outreach, community development; health, agriculture and environment; information technology.

Geekcorps: International technical volunteers work in developing countries to contribute to local information-technology projects while transferring the technical skills needed to sustain projects after volunteers leave. Projects focus on nations where information and communications technology already plays an important role in economic development.

Global Village Engineers: Volunteer corps of professional engineers that supports the local capacity of rural communities in developing countries. Engineers volunteer their skills to assure community livelihood by building long-term local capacity, especially in situations of disaster prevention, rehabilitation and environmental protection.

RedR – Engineers for Disaster Relief: RedR gives interns the opportunity to apply professional skills to humanitarian projects. Volunteers are offered high quality training and preparation before undertake short-term assignments with front-line humanitarian relief agencies.

International Volunteers in Environmentally Sustainable Technologies: After successfully completing an INVEST workshop, volunteers work in an international project geared toward helping electrify rural communities with renewable energy, building sustainable housing, and training local users and technicians.

Joint Development Associates: Assists in the transformational development of communities in Central Asia, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Karakalpakstan. Volunteers help initiate and implement projects in areas of water, poverty alleviation, infrastructure development, health education, agriculture, and emergency aid.

World Teach, Center for International Development at Harvard University: Individuals make meaningful contributions to international education by volunteering to teach in developing countries. All year and semester programs require a bachelor's degree or equivalent. Summer volunteer programs require 18 years+. Scholarships, fellowships, and fundraising assistance are available to help defray the cost of the program.

Urgent Africa: Urgent Africa provides health services, education and support to widows and orphans, and also works in cooperation with villages to build healthy and self-sufficient communities with a sustainable economy. Students, professionals and others are invited to work in a village or in the Seattle office.

Engineering World Health: Experienced engineers or technicians can volunteer their services on a two-week, all expenses-paid trip to a hospital in the developing world. Depending on background and experience, volunteers might be working alone to determining the needs of a recovering hospital or they may be assigned to surgical teams traveling on medical missions.

 HELP/Nepal: Technical volunteers and non-technical volunteers work to bridge the gap between community and development by the utilization of local resources and the development of local technical knowledge and skills in Nepalese communities. A significant amount of effort has been devoted to building schools and training community members to serve as teachers.

Himalayan Light Foundation: Volunteers improve the quality of life in Himalayan communities by introducing environmentally friendly renewable energy technologies. Work involves proposal and report writing, and coordination with local NGOs and donor agencies. Volunteers who want to participate in a field experience may subsidize and install a power system of their own design.

Sustainable Sciences Institute: Dedicated to improving public health worldwide by giving scientists in developing countries the resources needed to combat infectious diseases. SSI sponsors hands-on training workshops for public health researchers in developing countries. Volunteers are needed for grant development, to host workshops, and to provide technical assistance.

International Executive Service Corps: IESC employs volunteers with expertise in specific fields (i.e. tourism, textile/apparel, agribusiness/food processing, and nongovernmental organization development) to promote stability and prosperity in developing communities through private enterprise expansion. Volunteers work in developing countries and emerging democracies.

Seva: Seva responds to locally defined problems with culturally sustainable solutions throughout the world. Volunteers are needed to work as coaches, trainers, and teachers in a variety of professional fields. Clinical and non-clinical volunteers are needed in India, Nepal, Tibet, Cambodia and Tanzania for a preferred duration of 2 weeks to 2 months plus annual visits.

Care International: This organization aims to end world poverty by supporting health care, promoting sustainable agriculture, and developing savings and loan schemes. CARE also provides emergency food and shelter to survivors of natural disasters, wars and conflicts.

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Last Updated: 08/04/2017 08:23:15