Core Faculty


Juan Lucena

Juan Lucena

Director of Humanitarian Engineering

Professor, Engineering, Design and Society
Stratton Hall 424

Juan is Professor and Director of Humanitarian Engineering (HE) at the Colorado School of Mines. Juan obtained a Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies (STS) from Virginia Tech and two BS in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His books include Defending the Nation: U.S. Policymaking to Create Scientists and Engineers from Sputnik to the ’War Against Terrorism’ (University Press of America, 2005), Engineering and Sustainable Community Development (with Jen Schneider and Jon Leydens, Morgan & Claypool, 2010), Engineering Education for Social Justice: Critical Explorations and Opportunities (Springer, 2013), and Engineering Justice: Transforming Engineering Education and Practice (with Jon Leydens, IEEE-Wiley, 2017).

Raised in a privileged family of engineers, lawyers, and doctors, Juan learned about the social injustices associated with the application of professional expertise, including engineering. Living in Bogota, Colombia, a city of 8 million, he saw how the engineers working for the public utilities managed by his father, Bogota’s mayor, built systems that benefited the wealthy. As an engineering student in the 1980s, he experienced the engineering curriculum firsthand and how its content was shaped by the politics of the Cold War. Later as a PhD student working under the mentorship of cultural anthropologist Gary Downey, he learned that engineers and engineering have culture that can be studied and, if necessary, transformed for the wellbeing of communities, social justice, and sustainability. Transforming engineering and engineering education to promote these goals is what he has been trying to do since becoming an engineering educator in 1996.

What I Do

  • Oversee and plan the growth of the HE program (e.g., courses, projects and activities) into new areas of application such as socially responsible technologies for extractive industries and assistive technologies for persons with disabilities.
  • Recruit and mentor HE students through their studies and early careers so they find pathways to be the engineers they want to be with passion and commitment to serve others, especially those less privileged.
  • Network with private and public organizations to leverage the impact of HE projects and students and involve other stakeholders in HE community of learning and practice.
  • Teach and research at the intersections of engineering, social justice and communities.
Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Co-Director of Humanitarian Engineering

On sabbatical until August 2019

Associate Professor,
Engineering Design & Society
Stratton Hall 402

Current CV

Jessica Smith is Co-Director of Humanitarian Engineering and Associate Professor of Engineering, Design and Society at the Colorado School of Mines.

As an anthropologist, Professor Smith’s research interests focus around the mining and energy industries, with particular emphasis in corporate social responsibility, engineers, labor and gender. She is currently investigating the intersections between engineering and CSR as PI on the NSF grant “The Ethics of Extraction: Integrating Corporate Social Responsibility into Engineering Education.” She currently directs the social science and policy research of the ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE2ST at Mines, leading a team of graduate and undergraduate students who investigate public policy surrounding debates about unconventional energy production in Colorado. Professor Smith’s first major research project investigated gender and mining from the perspective of Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, where she grew up and drove haul trucks in the mines for summer employment during college. That research forms the basis of her book Mining Coal and Undermining Gender: Rhythms of Work and Family in the American West, which was funded by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a research grant from the National Science Foundation. She also co-organized the 2017 STS Underground conference at Mines and the 2016 “Energy Ethics: Fragile Lives and Imagined Futures” conference at the University of St. Andrews, which was later published as a special issue of Energy Research & Social Science. Her research also appears in journals such as American Anthropologist, Energy Policy, Social Studies of Science, Engineering Studies, Journal of Women & Minorities in Science and Engineering, and Science, Technology & Human Values.

Professor Smith also maintains an active research agenda on engineering education. In addition to the work integrating CSR into engineering curriculum, her research with co-PI Juan Lucena on low-income and first-generation engineering students was funded by the NSF grant “Invisible Innovators: How the knowledge and experiences of low-income and first-generation students (LIFGs) can contribute to US engineering problem definition and solving.” She is currently co-PI on a five-year NSF Partnerships in International Research and Education grant that will educate US engineering undergraduates to co-design, implement and evaluate more sustainable artisanal mining practices and technologies with miners and affected communities in Peru and Colombia. She helped establish Mines’ new undergraduate minor in Leadership in Social Responsibility as part of the Humanitarian Engineering program.

Professor Smith holds a PhD in Anthropology and a certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan and bachelor’s degrees in International Studies, Anthropology and Latin American Studies from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Greg Rulifson

Greg Rulifson

Teaching Assistant Professor, Division of Engineering, Design & Society

Stratton Hall 306


In the classroom, Greg teaches Humanitarian Engineering courses such as Engineering for Sustainable Community Development (EDNS/LAIS 377), Projects for People (EGGN 401), and Engineering for Social and Environmental Responsibility (EDNS 315). He also has responsibilities as the ‘Humanitarian Engineering Advisor’ to the Capstone (formerly known as Senior Design) teams in the CECS college that are working on real, impactful projects with partners around the world. Throughout his short time at Mines, he has taught at all undergraduate levels and always was impressed with the dedication and motivation of Mines students.

Greg also guides and advises the excellent Shultz Scholars in their efforts to increase engagement with the Humanitarian Engineering program to create a strong and sustainable community of HE students. Greg co-advises Mines Without Borders, a student group that practices humanitarian engineering, currently partnering with communities in western Nicaragua. He enjoys a respite and connection to his love of team sports from time to time through the Faculty Oversight Committee on Student Athletics. External to Mines, Greg is a liaison to a number of international development organizations through the Posner Center for International Development in Denver. He also is currently an evaluator on Professor Jessica Smith’s CSR in Engineering Education research project, and a senior advisor to the NSF research project led by Shawhin Roudbari of CU Boulder, “Institutional cultures of ethical community engagement in engineering-for-development programs.”

Greg earned his PhD in Civil Engineering at CU Boulder by conducting a longitudinal, intensive study of how students’ definitions of and relationship between social responsibility and engineering changed throughout college, tracking the many influences on their attitudes and interests (see Dissertation, two journal papers in publication), and how prosocial career desires could motivate students out of engineering majors (published in Engineering Studies). He also completed a certificate in Engineering for Developing Communities through course work and a practicum involving housing reconstruction in central Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia with the organization, Build Change.

Before moving to Colorado, Greg grew up in the foothills northeast of Sacramento, California in the middle of two dancing and outgoing sisters (that ended up with Architecture and Neurobiology degrees), guided and loved by his single mother who objectively is the greatest mother in the world. This background and some chance encounters led to a passion for engineering towards international development. To date, Greg has experience with projects in seven countries on five continents, including living and working in Nicaragua and Indonesia thrice, where he engineered structures through collaboration with community members to mitigate their risks due to earthquakes and tsunamis. He is a licensed Professional Civil Engineer in the State of California, earned an M.S. from Stanford University in Structural Engineering and Risk Analysis, and a B.S. from UC Berkeley in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a minor in Global Poverty and Practice.