Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 73.27
Liaison Brandon Trelstad
Submission Date March 4, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Oregon State University
IN-2: Innovation 2

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Brandon Trelstad
Sustainability Coordinator
Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Humanitarian Engineering Program

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

Increasingly, OSU faculty have found that our engineering students are seeking ways to make a lasting impact on our world. In response to this demand, a diverse group of faculty from engineering, humanities, public health and forestry has worked together to launch OSU's humanitarian engineering program.

We define humanitarian engineering as the co-development of science or engineering-based solutions to improve the human condition, namely through improved access to basic human needs (e.g., clean water, clean energy), an improved quality of life, or improved level of community resilience (e.g. disaster mitigation, economic resilience).

While the greatest needs often lie in the developing world, we recognize that needs exist within our borders, too, so our program is both global and local in orientation. The importance of co-developing solutions through active community engagement and sensitivity to context is critical in any setting.

Oregon State is well suited to harness educational outcomes and empower students to participate in solving global development problems because of our tradition of interdisciplinary research and education, a campus ethos of engaged service, and faculty and student interest. Student organizations such as OSU’s award-winning Engineers Without Borders chapter are already working on water, energy, or other projects in the developing world. Please see the undergraduate minor or graduate programming page for more details on opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

Ours is not the first humanitarian engineering-related program in the country, but it stands out as one that is firmly rooted in an academic curriculum (as opposed to being primarily an extracurricular activity) and because of the dedicated involvement of faculty outside engineering. It is also one of the only Humanitarian Engineering programs co-located with a Peace Corps Masters International (PCMI) program in engineering, which we believe brings added value to both.


A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

One project with positive outcomes from the HEST is micro-hydro development in Pakistan. Many sources suggest the tremendous potential for hydropower generation in Pakistan. However, the current lack of accurate hydrological data and quantitative metrics makes it very difficult to estimate the distribution of power potential across that region. This project will fill this knowledge gap, promoting the optimal utilization of Pakistan’s national hydropower resources. OSU has produced open-source and freely-available modeling tools that can be used to generate climate data (temperature and precipitation) on an approximately 1-km grid over any global land region.

Another project, the international Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory, explores the crucial connections between weather, crop productivity, and food security. Understanding the patterns of rainfall, evaporation, and temperature are vital to our grasp of these connections – and yet we suffer from a profound lack of scientific data. TAMHO works to address the crucial problem of minimal African hydro-meteorological data by creating a network of thousands of ground-sensing stations to the provide the critical climate data that will allow scientists, governments and local farmers access to high-quality, free data. TAHMO will make this high-quality data freely available to governments, scientists, and farmers in real time via the Internet from stations installed around the continent. The project will make it possible for Africa to leapfrog to one of the best-monitored continents in the world.


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
Yes or No
Curriculum Yes
Research Yes
Campus Engagement ---
Public Engagement Yes
Air & Climate ---
Buildings ---
Dining Services ---
Energy ---
Grounds ---
Purchasing ---
Transportation ---
Waste ---
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance ---
Diversity & Affordability Yes
Health, Wellbeing & Work ---
Investment ---

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
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The website URL where information about the innovation is available:

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