Engineering for Humanity

By Samantha Nakayiza.

In recent years, Humanitarian Engineering has become increasingly prominent in the College of Engineering at here Ohio State. The Humanitarian Engineering department works toward the “design and creation of products that promote human welfare, especially for the economically disadvantaged inside and outside the classroom.

The humanitarian aspect of engineering often goes unnoticed, even though it can bring about some of the most positive changes to the world. It influences engineers to create technology that can provide shelter, clean water, health-care and electricity to disadvantaged communities.

Inside the classroom, the College of Engineering offers a Humanitarian Engineering minor that not many students know about.  The minor’s curriculum encourages engineers to get involved in creating sustainable, safe, healthy products that can help develop thriving communities. One class, Cultural Conflict in Developing Nations, focuses on how advanced technology has affected developing nations. Another class called Food Security and Globalization examines the causes of food insecurity and discusses possible solutions to these problems with students.

Outside the classroom, engineering students are use what they’ve learned to help local and international disadvantaged communities through projects that provide clean water for communities, food sustainability and more. One organization at Ohio State that students can get involved with is Engineers Without Borders, a group that takes students to work on projects in international countries. The organization is unique because it provides students with the opportunity to get out of their comfort zones and do something meaningful in a new place. During their trip, students live in a community that speaks a different language and has different cultural traditions. One of the goals of the organization is to get students accustomed to the culture of the community they stay in and work with community leaders to make that community a better place.

Students involved with Engineers Without Borders working on their recent trip to Gambia


One past project was a flood mitigation project in the Dominican Republic during fall of 2015. The student group stayed and worked in the community of Esfuerzo de Paraiso. According to International Project Lead, Tony Satroplus, the ultimate goal of the flood mitigation project was to provide a solution to the flood issue in the community.

“It was unfortunate to see that people couldn’t go to school or work because of the flood that came from the river. We meet some of the most hopeful people in the Paraiso community and I am glad I got the opportunity to help,” Satroplus said.

The organization has an agricultural project this spring in Gambia, which is located in Western Africa.  Engineers Without Borders plans to partner with the Njau community to talk about water sustainability in their community.

“We traveled to Gambia early winter of last year, and it was such an amazing experience getting integrated to the Njau community.” Satroplus explains. “Students got to meet some of the leaders and try some new food, but still brainstorm solutions for the next travel.”

With all the individual skills and personal accolades engineering students acquire in college, it is important that students also learn the importance of giving back.