Meet our students

Humanitarian Engineering

Current Students

Emma: Water security for the houseless in Portland

Emma Chapman, MS in HES: Environmental Engineering ’23, BS in Mechanical Engineering (George Fox University)

My thesis topic is water security as it pertains to the houseless communities in Portland, Oregon, my hometown. After learning about humanitarian engineering through the Grand Challenge Scholar Program at my undergraduate university, I immediately realized that it was the degree I wanted to pursue in graduate school. Once I realized that I could use my engineering training to promote equitable and sustainable solutions to co-defined humanitarian problems, I jumped at the opportunity. I am the current Graduate Student – Faculty Liaison for the HES Graduate Student Council and enjoy the community we have built here on campus

Nina: Supporting communities affected by geohazards

Nina Guizzetti, Geological Engineering and a minor in Engineering for Community Development ’23

Nina is from Rainier, Washington, and she is studying Geological Engineering and earning a minor in Engineering for Community Development.

When asked how she wants to apply HE in her future career and life, Nina says, “I want to interact with communities that are affected by geohazards! Being able to understand the need for community engagement and apply community engagement methods/skills to engineering projects in my future career is the goal! Ultimately, HE has taught me to be a conscious engineer, but also human being, and I will always apply the values of HE wherever life takes me.”

Why does Nina love HE? She says, “What don’t I love about HE? It’s hard to choose one thing, but one of my favorites is the people. The faculty and students of HE are amazing! Everyone is so supportive and inquisitive, and the faculty seem to have endless connections to wonderful organizations and people. The best decision I ever made was minoring in HE!”


Colleen: Building a more independent and sustainable world

Colleen McCulloch, Bachelor of Science in Engineering with a focus area in Community Development ’24

Colleen is a current student in the BSE program and has a focus area for her major in the Humanitarian Engineering focus area of Community Development. She is an outdoor enthusiast from all over the place! She loves traveling and going on new adventures and is one of the first female Eagle Scouts. She enjoys helping others and plans on applying to the Peace Corps after graduating from Mines to help build a more independent and sustainable world.

Colleen would love to travel to different locations around the world to help promote environmental sustainability and better eco-tourism. One of her favorite projects was building a series of Leave No Trace (LNT) signs for a community in Texas to educate the community on proper hiking etiquette and responsible outdoor recreation.

Mateo: Community-owned gold processing in Colombia

Mateo Rojas, MS in HES: Environmental Engineering ’23, BS in Environmental Studies (U of California – Santa Barbara)

My research through the HES program seeks to understand why existing efforts to create community-owned gold processing plants have not been successful in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) communities in Colombia. The collaborative ideals of the HES program are interwoven into its structure in a way that has empowered me to focus my thesis on something that is deeply important to me. I greatly value the core lesson that the social and technical dimensions of our problems and solutions are inseparable, and this program has been equipping me to carry this idea forward and serve as a liaison between communities and engineers seeking to alleviate social injustices.

Sofia: Chemical risks in informal e-waste recycling in Argentina

Sofia Schlezak, MS in HES: Environmental Engineering ’23, BS in Chemical Engineering (Universidad Nacional de La Plata)

I am a Fulbright & Ministry of Education Scholar from Argentina who has worked as a public servant in Argentina’s National Ministry of the Environment and as a consultant for international organizations in the field of chemicals and waste. For my thesis, I am investigating socio-technical interventions to reduce chemical risks in informal e-waste recycling livelihoods in Buenos Aires. I aim to work closely with the local community, particularly with the workers, families, and neighbors exposed to hazardous chemicals, to co-design and co-analyze affordable, accessible, and sustainable solutions, thus promoting greener, safer working conditions. The HES program is a perfect match for my aspirations and has opened doors to new concepts and paradigms from disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, and STS (Science and Technology Studies). Interdisciplinary techniques helped me design appropriate research questions and methods, as well as interact with a variety of stakeholders so that the aims of my project correspond with the interests of the community.

Meet Our Scholars

Meet A Grad Student

Student Perspective:

Evelyn Lundeen

Student Perspective:

Maggie Guinta

Humanitarian Engineering:

What is it good for out in the real world?

According to students who have participated in our groundbreaking interdisciplinary program, a whole lot…

“I guess the biggest takeaway I had from the Humanitarian Engineering Program is that development work (through HE) is not about showing people a new technology that they should use, but rather working with the people to understand what they need and show them that they can develop their own tools and technologies out of their own knowledge and local resources.”

Molly Jane Roby (neé Perkins)

Some HE Alumni

Kevin (BS ’22): Responsible renewable Electrical Engineering

Kevin Greene
BS in Electrical Engineering and a minor in Leadership in Social Responsibility ’22

Kevin says, “I am graduating with a B.S in electrical engineering and a minor in leadership is social responsibility. In my time at Mines I have been involved in many HE clubs and events. The HE department has given me the ability to learn about new ways to view problems and interact with communities. Along with taking many interesting classes in the HE program I was president of Mines Without Borders, a PIRE research scholar, and a Shultz Scholar. After graduation, I will be working for Invenergy as a Staff Engineer in their Renewable Electrical Engineering division in Chicago. I am excited to work in renewables and hope that I will be able to use the many skills I learned in the HE program to engage with communities I will be working in. “

Hayley (MS ’21): Construction and architecture

Hayley Glover
MS in HES: Environmental Engineering ’21, BS in Environmental Engineering (SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry)

Hayley says,” I do research for Artifex Technologies, a startup technology company that specializes in spatial modeling for building industries like architecture and construction, and work full-time at Turner Construction Company in Seattle. During the application process, Artifex was excited to see that I had assumed the role of “creative thinker” in various scientific spaces and found my unique experiences in “people-centric design” to be invaluable. The company appreciates that I can essentially move between both the marketing and R&D sides of the company and communicate between our technical and market-facing experts. At Turner, I serve as a link between designers, structural engineers, trade construction workers, and clients. It helps to have an open mind about design and consider the variety of funds of knowledge that come together to construct a building. HES has helped me to be a lot more thoughtful in honoring what expertise everyone may bring to the table and to think holistically about the course of design, completion, and turnover. Our HES peers and faculty have empowered me to value the unique ethics-centric perspective I bring to the table as an engineer.”

Hannah (BS ’18): Peace Corps (Tanzania)

MInes StudentHannah Jewess
BS in Environmental Engineering and a minor in Humanitarian Engineering ’18

Hannah graduated in 2018 with a BS in Environmental Engineering and a minor in Humanitarian Engineering. Her passion for HE gave her the opportunity to be a Spring 2018 Shultz Scholar and work with faculty as the HE Programming Coordinator and graduate from the Mines Peace Corps Prep Program.

Hannah recognized learning about sustainable community development in the classroom serves as a great starting point for these ideas, but found herself with the desire to apply the HE concepts she had learned about. She is currently serving as a Peace Corps Education Volunteer in Tanzania teaching physics to high school age students. Being an education volunteer gives her a unique position to work closely with both the educators of Tanzania and the youth that is the country’s future.

Still in the beginning of her service she is working to integrate into her community to gain a better understanding of what projects may be feasible and desired by her community and school. She has been using tools such as community mapping, continued learning of local languages as to have conversations with community members about what they see as challenges and opportunities in their community, as well as finding a community counterpart that will partner with her on future projects and ensure their sustainability after her service ends.

Feel free to reach out to her about serving in the Peace Corps or any HE related questions at or check out her website (

Rosalie (BS ’18): Stakeholder engagement in environmental remediation

RosalieRosalie O’Brien
BS in Environmental Engineering and a minor in Humanitarian Engineering ’18

Rosalie O’Brien graduated from the Humanitarian Engineering Minor in 2018 and completed a graduate degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Colorado School of Mines, working on a multidisciplinary National Science Foundation research project that focuses on artisanal and small-scale gold mining communities in Colombia and Peru.  As an environmental engineer, her interests are directed at hazardous waste contamination in the environment and co-creating remediation strategies with mining communities to clean up various contaminants of concern, such as mercury and cyanide. Her research project took her to Colombia during the summer of 2019, where she worked with and live in the communities that this project targets.  She has also worked as a lead research assistant for a non-governmental organization, examining the nexus between armed conflict and artisanal and small-scale mining. 

Rosalie is currently working as an environmental engineer at a Native-owned environmental consulting firm in Alaska. Her passion for protecting the natural environment stems from her love of the Rocky Mountains. When she’s not working, you can probably find her deep in the mountains hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, white water rafting, backpacking, or hugging a great big Aspen tree.

Liz (BS ’18): Chemical engineer at Procter & Gamble

Liz Tomon
BS in Chemical Engineering ’18

Liz says, “Right now I’m working in Albany, GA with Procter & Gamble. My exact role is Papermaking Project Engineer, but really it’s more like Training Engineer (AKA I’m just learning so much!). I use principles and strategies I learned in HE every day. A good example is the Manual / Technical split you learn about throughout the curriculum, I had never seen the inside of a motor or understood why we pick one kind of pump over another. Understanding that this split exists has helped me to stay humble and be vulnerable when it comes to asking for help. A lot of engineers come into the workforce thinking that because they got a degree, they know everything; this is far from true. Theoretical and manual aspects of engineering are equally as important. I’m so, so, so serious when I say that HE was the best thing that ever happened to me – not only because I loved all of the courses I took, but also because it helped me with life. HE gave me the opportunity to be open to different ideas and viewpoints of the world.”

“I’m currently keeping up with HE principles by reading and having long discussions with my friends who are still in school. Albany recently had a Category 2 hurricane rip through town, so in my free time I have been helping people clean up their yards. In my free time, I hang out with my new friends, travel all around the south, and avoid cockroaches. I’m currently trying to find a middle school girls basketball team to help coach.”
“If you are at all on the fence about HE or are already deeply involved and want a friend who can give you perspective of how it is working in a huge company please reach out to me; I love to talk.”
Nicole (BS ’14): Sustainable mineral supply chains

Nicole HansonNicole Hanson
BS in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Humanitarian Engineering ’14
Former president of Mines Without Borders.

Nicole says, “The HE Program at Mines was the highlight of my college education. While in the HE program, I was free to ponder the problems that mattered to me such as poverty and inequality. For my senior design project, I worked on a water pump design for small-holder farmers. I didn’t learn all the answers at Mines, but I started to learn how to ask the right questions, especially those related to how technology impacts society and vice versa. I also learned to acknowledge that the types of problems I wanted to solve in sustainable development would need more than an engineer’s technical skills: they need the kind of critical and holistic view that we learn in HE courses.” 

“Through the social network of the HE program, I obtained my current role as a Sustainable Development Analyst at the International Copper Association. My job is to know how copper detracts and contributes to sustainability throughout its lifecycle, then to travel around the world talking about it. For the past two years, I have been honored to work with a team on the creation of the Copper Mark, a Fairtrade-type label for responsibly-produced copper. Thanks to my mechanical engineering education at Mines, I can speak at a technical level with engineers at mines and smelters, and thanks to my humanitarian engineering experience I can also engage in dialogue with human-rights defending organizations and other stakeholders along copper’s life cycle. Being able to liaise and translate between these different perspectives to find common objectives has been a key element to the success of my career.” 

Molly (BS ’11): Peace Corps (Ghana)

Humanitarian Engineering Program graduate Molly Jane RobyMolly Jane Roby
BS in Environmental Engineering and a minor in Humanitarian Engineering ’11

For Humanitarian Engineering Program graduate Molly Jane Roby (neé Perkins), the biggest storms used to come in June. “Right now it is time to batten down the hatches,” she once wrote. “The rains have started and they are gathering momentum. We get a storm about every 2 or 3 days. It builds up after an intense day of heat, with dark storm clouds over Togo, to the northeast of Zabzugu. The clouds move west within less than an hour, and the downpour begins.”In 2012, Molly and her husband Seth left Colorado to become Peace Corps Volunteers in Ghana. (They finished their service in May 2014.)

Molly calls the Humanitarian Engineering capstone course, Engineering and Sustainable Community Development, the “best class” she ever took at Mines. It was, she says, the “class that prepared me for development work as an engineer.”


“I guess the biggest takeaway I had from the Humanitarian Engineering Program is that development work (through HE) is not about showing people a new technology that they should use, but rather working with the people to understand what they need and show them that they can develop their own tools and technologies out of their own knowledge and local resources.”

Later on, Molly and Seth became Peace Corps volunteer leaders, chosen from among their peers for their exemplary work and knowledge of community development.

You can read all about their Peace Corps experience in their blog, The Robys Go to Ghana. And don’t miss Molly’s “10 Things I Take for Granted Living in Zabzugu.”

Larkin (MS ’21): Neurodivergence in engineering education

Larkin Martini
MS in HES: Geological Engineering ’21, BS in Geological Engineering (Mines)

Larkin is beginning a PhD in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech after taking a gap year, spending time traveling with family to Tanzania, Kenya, Ecuador, Peru, Norway, and Iceland. When not traveling, she helped tutor middle school students in math and continued her own studies in engineering education research and worldbuilding. Larkin hopes to study neurodivergence in engineering education, including creative ways to teach earth sciences to engineers and non-earth scientists.

Paige (MS ’21): Community development specialist for water systems

Paige Kadavy
MS in HES: Environmental Engineering ’21, BS in Mechanical Engineering (Mines)

Paige says, “I am working as a Community Development Specialist for a technical assistance non-profit managing projects in small, rural communities with water contamination issues in the San Joaquin Valley. I find myself thinking about what I learned during my time in the HES program often. Every day I interact with stakeholders that have varying viewpoints to which I then have to find a way to cater project outcomes. I spend a lot of time collecting proposals from and then choosing engineering consultants, ensuring that I contract the firm that will help communities remain autonomous and self-sufficient while also providing them the support they are seeking. I genuinely believe the HES program not only provided me the skills to do the best work I can, but that I would not be in the career I am now without it.”

Dot (BS ’19): Economic Development Administration

Dot Walch
BS in Civil Engineering and a Humanitarian Engineering minor ’19
Economic Development Administration (EDA), Department of Commerce

Dot was a Peace Corps volunteer math teacher in Guinea (until evacuation due to COVID-19). At the EDA, Dot provides technical assistance to communities receiving grants for infrastructure and construction projects
Dot says her goal is to make the perfect French omelet and also continue learning how to promote and facilitate equity through community-based development projects. Maybe she would like to attend grad school in urban development?

Kellan (BS ’18): Humanitarian physics

Mines StudentKellen Malone
BS in Engineering Physics and a minor in Humanitarian Engineering ’18

Hello! My name is Kellen and I am currently a graduate student in physics and a recent graduate from the Humanitarian Engineering program. I got involved in humanitarian work after returning from a 2 week volunteer trip in Nepal with Hike for Help sophomore year, and I’ve tried to be involved in humanitarian projects ever since. I’ve been a part of Mines Without Borders intermittently as an undergraduate, working on a water distribution system in Nicaragua. I’ve also co-started a program at Mines that brings a few students during summers to teach math and science and work on engineering projects in Tanzania at an NGO that runs a technical college for village students. I am interested in applying engineering and physics concepts through a humanitarian lens, as well as improving the housing situation in Golden, CO. For senior design I worked on a project researching the environmental impact of above-ground nuclear bomb tests in Colorado from the Nevada Test Cite. At this time, my master’s thesis is focused on developing a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly method of refrigeration compared to vapor compression technology. Going through the humanitarian engineering program has helped me learn how to gauge the impact of engineering and physics projects, as well as how to steer projects towards more humanitarian goals. (That can be boiled down to “listen to people”) 

Wolf (BS ’18): Intentional innovation for urban agriculture, and urban sustainability and resilience

Wolf Reichard
BS in Mechanical Engineering and a Humanitarian Engineering minor ’18

Over the course of his Humanitarian Engineering (HE) studies and Mines, Wolf was able to work on an incredible number of real-world projects. From home heating systems for the Peruvian highlands to Solar Drip irrigation layouts for Uganda, there was never a dull moment while Wolf was in the HE program.

Ending his time at Mines with an HE sponsored trip to Peru to implement his team’s Capstone project, Wolf graduated with the HE minor and a Peace Corp prep Certificate in 2018, and was landed a job as a Human Centered Designer with iDE Mozambique (a direct result of the work he did in HE classes).

Wolf has been in Chimoio, Mozambique for about a month now, has already installed three large greenhouses, and, between user interviews and installations, traveled to 4 of the country’s 10 provinces. He is currently working with iDE’s international Design team and in-country leadership to determine the best method for starting a WASH initiative in Mozambique while also working on existing programs focused on market linkages for smallholder farmers.

Wolf cannot speak highly enough of the HE curriculum. Every day, he refers to articles, tools and resources the program connected him with. He says, “I still carry my Human Centered Problem Definition and Projects for People notebooks with me everywhere that I go. I’m using them as roadmap for the projects I’m working on every day… the user interview skills I learned in Engineers Engaging Communities come into play nearly every day. If it weren’t for my HE courses, I’d be completely lost.”

He’s also looking forward to meeting up with his friend and fellow Shultz Scholar Hannah Jewess who is a Peace Corps Volunteer in neighboring Tanzania

Michelle (BS ’17): Geoscience and environmental restoration

Work PicMichelle Pedrazas
BS in Geophysical Engineering and a minor in Humanitarian Engineering ’17

Michelle Pedrazas graduated with a B.S. in Geophysical Engineering and a minor in Humanitarian Engineering from Colorado School of Mines in May 2017. She participated in characterizing an aquifer in La Paz, Bolivia with Geoscientists Without Borders using geophysical techniques. She worked closely with communities to better understand what was already known regarding the aquifer beneath and to raise awareness on the potential outcomes of the project. She then worked as an exploration geophysicist for six months before completing graduate school at University of Texas at Austin in Geological Sciences with the objective of better understanding water dynamics in the near-surface. The impact of understanding how water moves in the Critical Zone ranges from risk mitigation (flooding, landslides) to characterizing the preferential path of water and solutes.

Nate (MS ’12): EWB and Peace Corps (Paraguay)

Nate DauthNate Dauth
MS in Environmental Engineering ’12

Mines graduate Nate Dauth has long been interested in international development. A few years back he helped found the Mines student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (now known as Mines Without Borders) — and made several construction trips to Nicaragua as a result.

EWB, he says, was “one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. The club gave me the opportunity to apply myself, allowed me to explore a new corner of the world, and showed me how a small group of inspired students can make a big difference.”

Nate adds that the club “provides incredible opportunities to learn and grow and I highly recommend that anyone join, especially if they’re interested in humanitarian engineering or development work.”

While not an official Humanitarian Engineering student himself, Nate calls the HE course Engineering and Sustainable Community Development “the most rewarding class I ever took in college.”

Development, he discovered, is not just a matter of getting the technology right. You have to understand the cultural context as well. “Learning the context of why sustainable development is the way it is today was eye opening and it motivated me to continue learning about SCD. It was engaging, informative, and very much relevant to what I do now.”

After graduation from Mines, Nate served as a Peace Corps volunteer (or PCV) in Paraguay, stationed in idyllic Capilla Cué east of the capital Asuncion, returning in 2016. The area’s hills, forests, streams and waterfalls (left) give it the nickname “Eden of the Cordillera.” His assignment involved environmental issues, including working with a farmer’s organization to conserve fragile local soils. He also worked with a local youth group to take up conservation issues.