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


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


Greg teaches Humanitarian Engineering courses, EPICS Design, and core HASS courses. He co-advises the Mines Without Borders team and is a liaison to poverty alleviation organizations through the Posner Center for International Development in Denver. Greg earned his PhD at CU Boulder by studying how students’ understanding of the relationship between social responsibility and engineering changed throughout college. He has international experience working in Nicaragua and Indonesia engineering structures and working with community members to mitigate their risk due to earthquakes and tsunamis. He earned an M.S. from Stanford University in Structural Engineering and Risk Analysis and a B.S. from UC Berkeley in Civil Engineering with a minor in Global Poverty and Practice.