Penn StateSchool of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs


HESE Alumni Updates


HESE Sponsorship & Student Opportunities

Invest in our students as they try to change the world!


Contact Us

Khanjan Mehta
Program Director
213U Hammond Building
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 863-4426


Current Ventures

Affordable Greenhouses

Kenya, Rwanda, Cameroon, Haiti, Bolivia and Beyond!

Our Greenhouses are Affordable, Durable and Expandable. They are designed for smallholder farmers and cost a fraction of the competition! We have licensed our technology to Mavuuno Greenhouses Ltd. to serve the East African market and are now pursuing similar partnerships in Cameroon, Haiti, Madagascar and other countries. Thanks to an EPA P3 grant, we are researching low-cost substitutes for greenhouse glazing materials.

Acetone Breathalyzer for Diabetes

Low-Cost Method to Estimate Blood Glucose and Fight Diabetes


Urbarn hydroponic farming

U-Farm is a local agricultural business venture that utilizes hydroponic technology to grow fresh herbs and produce year-round right in the heart of State College. U-Farm is a user-driven business that seeks to build a community around local food while making agriculture more sustainable

Low-Cost Solar Dryers

Kenya: $150 Solar Dryers to increase shelf-life of produce

About 40% - 60% of food produced in East Africa is wasted annually because of spoilage, insect and animal contamination, and ineffective transportation methods. We have designed and field-tested affordable solar dryers to extend the shelf-life of fruits and vegetables. Our dryers can dry foods in one day and are simple enough to be assembled by two people in two days. The solar food dryers enable several kinds of micro-enterprises that improve livelihoods while furthering food security.

Rainwater Harvesting Systems

Kenya: Using Natural Resources

A new venture for Spring 2013, the Rainwater Harvesting team will have a two-fold focus: validating the contextual need for rainwater harvesting and designing an effective and affordable system for the people of Kenya.

Mashavu: Networked Health Solutions

Kenya: Telemedicine System

Mashavu (“chubby-cheeked” in Swahili) is a telemedicine system that connects medical professionals in developing countries with individuals living in rural areas. Using relatively simple yet innovative technology, Mashavu sends a patient’s medical history and vitals to a nurse, thus completing a process, which currently involves up to two days of travel and hospital wait, in less than twenty minutes. By bridging these geographical and social gaps, Mashavu provides dependable healthcare access to people in rural and impoverished areas in Kenya.

Ceramic Filter Press

Kenya: Papa Maji Ceramic Water Filters

The Papa Maji Team believes that by providing its users with clean drinking water, we will be able to provide them with lifelong opportunities.These opportunities include higher occupational potential and a better education as well as an all around better quality of life. Time lost battling diarrheal diseases would instead be spent in the classroom or learning practical job skills. Alternatively, this means more time spent with the family bettering the home and fostering family values.

Previous HESE Ventures

Wishvast: Building Trust and Social Capital

WishVast is a cell-phone and web based app social networking and trust building system that leverages the pervasiveness of cell-phones to alleviate poverty. Over several years of on the ground research, our team has identified three key issues faced by the economically poor: a lack of availability of information in developing regions, a lack of trust or especially a lack of ease in building trust in these regions, and the fact that individuals are spending too much money and time on many common day-to-day tasks with returns that are not very good.Read more...

Project Prerana

Women constitute 90% of India's informal workforce but most of them have little or no formal education and earn less than $2 a day. Prerana is a multimedia knowledge sharing platform that provides self-employed women, regardless of their literacy level, access to relevant knowledge to improve their livelihoods. Prerana is being designed in collaboration with the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), to provide transformative education opportunities over rural supply chains, in a manner that further strengthens the supply chains and makes them more equitable and transparent.

Biogas Digestor

Fossil fuels like coal, oil and wood are the primary sources of energy in many developing countries around the world, including Nicaragua. It is estimated that rural families spend in excess of 20% of their income on cooking fuel, while leading to significant health risks, from dyspnea to retinal damage and tachycardia. Biogas digesters convert organic waste into methane gas that can be used for cooking. We have designed and field-tested affordable biogas digesters that can be used by homesteads and small communities. A widespread adoption of biogas generation could potentially offset the use of charcoal and serve to combat deforestation and poor indoor air quality.

Kenya Windmill Project

Students from various disciplines at Penn State University, Bowling Green State University, University of Nairobi, and Kochia Development Group (a Community Based Organization in Kenya) collaborated to develop a robust and sustainable hybrid power system for rural communities in western Kenya. The objective was to build the system in Kenya using Kenyan resources and set up a profit-driven business around it to ensure economic sustainability. The model developed for this project emphasized building strong relationships between all the involved parties and incorporated multidisciplinary engineering design, business development, and social sciences to make the project truly successful and sustainable. The guiding philosophies, program, and business models for this project are discussed in this paper. The various observations and lessons learned during the planning and execution of this project are presented with suitable examples. Read more...

Jamaica Anaerobic Digester Project

The USDA-sponsored anaerobic digester project was concluded in November, 2009. The results of the 5-year collaborative design project were the construction of benchtop scale and pilot scale anaerobic digestion systems at Penn State and the University of Technology, Jamaica. These prototypes were used to determine the optimal performance of a digester using poultry manure as a feedstock to produce methane which was fuel for an engine generator for production of thermal and electrical energy. Nearly 60 Penn State and University of Technology students have been able to travel to one another’s country to work on this project. The project resulted in the construction of a full-scale system operating at a farm in Jamaica. The system utilizes the energy produced by a 5 kW diesel generator to lower operating costs for the farm owner, thus making the farm more competitive - all the while reducing the pollutant loading on the nearby water bodies. Read more...

Kenya Agricultural Utility System

The Kenya Agricultural Utility System Project was a long and involved design process that was intended to help the less fortunate farmers in Kenya, Africa. Farmers for many years have used hard labor by hand and foot to do simple but grueling tasks such as digging water ditches, or pumping water. For this project we designed a vehicle to assist these deprived farmers do their jobs faster and more efficiently. Read more...