Engineering School Introduces Global Humanitarian Engineering Program

May 23, 2014 | Rosa Jimenez

The Walla Walla University (WWU) Edward F. Cross School of Engineering will offer a global humanitarian engineering emphasis program beginning this fall.

Students in the program will complete core engineering classes as well as courses in religion, business, culture and ethics. Also required will be international service or work experience, such as participation in Engineers Without Borders, student missions or Peace Corps, or work with a nongovernmental organization or company.

WWU’s first Engineers Without Borders projects in Honduras sparked a move to offer more students the chance to experience global service as well as earn academic credit for their involvement. “We recognized that a successful international development project requires far more than just technical skills,” says Brian Roth, engineering professor. “It requires cultural sensitivity, multicultural communication, team-building and project-management skills.”

The first Engineers Without Borders projects, two Honduras school structures and related infrastructure improvements, were completed in 2010 and 2012. The chapter’s current project is working with the community of Pucutuni, Peru, to design and install a new water system for the town.  

“Engineers should have an understanding of global development issues and build cultural awareness,” says Curt Nelson, founder of the WWU Engineers Without Borders chapter. “We hope students will learn to recognize humanitarian needs and build a team to meet those needs and, perhaps most importantly, reflect on their place in society.”

Nelson says this program will also help students be better prepared for careers in international development work and to work with multinational companies. Doug Logan, School of Engineering dean, observes that there is a trend in engineering education toward providing training for working effectively in a global setting. “The new program will enhance our students’ competitiveness in the global economy.”

For more program information, visit