Engineering a More Humanitarian World

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Kay Kinard
Director of Communications, College of Engineering

“Humanitarian Engineering” or “Socially Responsible Engineering” may be new terms for some, but engineering students at Georgia Tech are finding that these concepts underlie much of what they study. Humanitarian engineering places strong emphasis on the engineering activities that impact those who lack the means to address pressing problems. For example, clean water or earthquake resistance buildings in many developing countries are urgent engineering challenges. In other instances, humanitarian engineering also addresses issues that affect populations around the world regardless of socio-economic standing like recycling, privacy, and climate change. Consequently, engineers are increasingly studying the impact of products and services on our everyday life.

At Tech, humanitarian engineering concepts are prevalent both inside and outside the classroom. Students in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering have been working with faculty member Reggie DesRoches in stabilizing the infrastructure in post-Katrina Louisiana as well as in Haiti following their devastating earthquake.

In many parts of the world, poor medical infrastructure leads to the re-use of hypodermic needles, contributing to the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B. Professor Mark Prausnitz along with his students in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering are working on developing dissolving microneedle patches that would revolutionize how vaccines and medicines are administrated by helping to make them more accessible in areas with a shortage of medical personnel.

Georgia Tech also hosts an active Engineers Without Borders (EWB) student organization. EWB’s goal is to bring sustainable solutions to the developing world while building better engineers in the process. Students in the Tech EWB chapter will be travelling to Cameroon this December to begin work on a clean water project for select areas within the west African country.

The Tech chapter of EWB has also teamed up with researchers at Tech and Emory to provide sanitation to remote and low-income communities. They were even given $40,000 from Startup Chile to help begin a sewage treatment system than functions on solar technology.

There are many compelling opportunities at Tech for engineering students to make a difference in society. At Tech, students learn to not only create better products, but to make a positive, lasting impact on our world. Click here for more information on engineering at Georgia Tech.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Rachael Pocklington
  • Created: 12/04/2011
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 10/07/2016

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