Penn StateSchool of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs

HESE Sponsorship & Student Opportunities

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


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




Khanjan Mehta
Director, Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program
Instructor, Engineering Design
School of Engineering Design, Technology & Professional Programs (SEDTAPP)
College of Engineering - The Pennsylvania State University
213 U Hammond Building, University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814.863.4426

Professional Interests:

International Social Entrepreneurship, Innovative System Integration, High-tech Entrepreneurship, Design for extreme affordability, Systems Thinking, Indigenous Knowledge, Social Networks, Educational Assessment, Relationships between Cellphones, Social Capital and Trust

I love connecting concepts, people, computers and devices. A basic philosophy behind my work is the convergence of disciplines, concepts, cultures, and countries to create a freer, friendlier, fairer and more sustainable planet.


Recent Videos:

Watch three HESE ventures (Essential Design, Mashavu, WishVast) in Kenya on the pilot Global Penn State TV program.


This 21-minute TV program was produced by WPSU. Watch it High-Def (720p) on YouTube!


Mashavu Keynote Presentation at NI Week 2009


eClips interview on Social Entrepreneurship and Mashavu


Innovation in Teaching Entrepreneurship Award



Master of Science - Electrical Engineering, Penn State University, 2003 (GPA: 3.73)

Bachelor of Engineering - Electronics Engineering, D J Sanghvi College of Engineering, University of Mumbai, India, 2001 (First Class)

Diploma in Industrial Electronics, VES Polytechnic, Mumbai, MSBTE, India, 1998 (First Class with Distinction)



National Instruments' Certified LabVIEW Developer (Since Oct 2003)

National Instruments' Certified Professional Instructor (Since May 2004)



Since Jan 2011: Director, Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program

                            Instructor, Engineering Design, School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs (SEDTAPP)

2007 - 2010, Senior Research Associate, ECS, College of Engineering, Penn State; Affiliate Faculty, SEDTAPP

2004 – 2006, Senior Research Support Associate, ECS, College of Engineering

2002 – 2003, Research Assistant, ECS, College of Engineering

2003, Assistant in Research, Communications and Space Sciences Laboratory

2001 – 2002, Graduate Assistant, Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, PSU

2000 – 2001, Project Engineer, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, India


Honors and Awards:

2010, Lawrence J. Perez Memorial Student Advocate Award

2009, Ideablob Innovation in Teaching Entrepreneurship Award (National award sponsored by Advanta; Presented at the 2009 USASBE conference; Co-recipient: Jeff Cornwall, Belmont University) (Video Clip)

2008, W. LaMarr Kopp International Achievement Award

2006, One of two US delegates invited by UNESCO & Engineers for a Sustainable World to help establish an international ESW organization

2001, J N Tata Endowment Fellowship for the higher education of Indians


Courses Teaching or Taught:

ENGR 497K: Social Entrepreneurship (Course Developer)

ENGR 497A: HESE Reflection & Research Dissemination (Course Developer)

EDSGN 452: Projects in Community Service Engineering, Multiple Ventures (Course Developer)

EDSGN 497C/H: Design for Developing Countries: Kenya (Course Co-Developer)

EDSGN 497EF: Sensor and Controller System Integration (Course Developer)

WMNST 497A: Empowerment Through Collaborative Education: Social Entrepreneurship in Tanzania - Internship (Course co-developer)


EE403W (Senior Design Project) for the Electrical Engineering Department

EE 310 (Electronic Circuit Design) for the Electrical Engineering Department


LabVIEW Basics I and II courses (developed and accredited by National Instruments)

LabVIEW Data Acquisition and Signal Conditioning (developed and accredited by National Instruments)


Developed a number of courses related to Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship. The courses are tightly integrated with research and entrepreneurial outreach. The courses are very popular and the ventures have created sustainable value for developing communities, and been recognized by the university and beyond. HESE was selected for the pilot Global Penn State TV program and the annual State of the University address. Externally, our ventures have been featured on BusinessWeek, Design News and Voice of America, besides Popular Science recently naming HESE as one of 30 awesome labs in the US. Numerous educational activities and ventures are being replicated and championed at other universities.

Conceptualized and developed the eplum model (portmanteau from E Pluribus Unum, the US motto which means “Out of many, One”, reflects the convergence philosophy) of student engagement to increase participation in HESE ventures from the select few to a cross-section of the students. The eplum model engages students and faculty in various formal and informal ways from the sub-credit to multi-credit level. For example, in Spring 2010, approximately 200 students across eight different courses directly participated in three large HESE ventures. Comprehensive assessment instruments that involve quantitative as well as qualitative methods (including on-the-ground observations) have been developed and piloted by our nine-member team. The instruments focus on global awareness and engagement, multi-disciplinary teamwork and entrepreneurial mindset development and support the effectiveness of the model. Further research and refinement of the instruments is in progress.


Developed an intensive course called ‘Sensor and Controller System Integration’ that promotes innovation and high-tech entrepreneurship by bringing together students from various disciplines across campus to collaborate and rapidly integrate proof-of-concept systems for innovative products and services. The course has been offered four times with 51 students from twenty one disciplines across six colleges signing up for the course. Eight entrepreneurial ventures (received seed funds) owe their genesis to this course. This course is also piloting the National Instruments’ LabVIEW Academy program.


Supervised independent study credits for over 50 students over last five years and the Schreyers Honors College thesis for two students; three of whom received the Channa and Usharani Reddy Mission Award.

International HESE Ventures

Mashavu: Networked Health Solutions for the Developing World: (Role: PI; Ongoing) Design and Commercialization of an innovative low-cost telemedicine system in East Africa. Collaborators include United Nations Industrial Development Office (UNIDO) and Children and Youth Empowerment Center (CYEC). Mashavu is the collaborative effort of 162 students from 28 disciplines across nine colleges over the last three years.


WishVast: Building Trust and Social Capital using Cell phones: (Role: PI; Ongoing): WishVast attempts to harness the pervasiveness of cellphones in developing countries to build trust and optimize resource utilization & supply chains to facilitate people to people trade with the ultimate goal of alleviating poverty.


iSPACES: Rethinking Science Education in Tanzania: (Role: Co-PI; Ongoing): Multi-disciplinary faculty team from Penn State and Tumaini University are working on the development of a three-year Bachelors of Education in Science degree program to train secondary school science teachers. The program is based on the tenets of science, systems and entrepreneurship.


Affordable Greenhouses (Kenya, Rwanda): Appropriate infrastructure-related technologies: (Role: PI; Ongoing): Low-cost ($250) Greenhouses designed for small agro-enterprises and sustenance to farmers improve their livelihoods while reducing spoilage and furthering food security .


Wind powered energy production and enterprise setup (Role: PI; 2004-2007) Designed an appropriate windmill based hybrid power system and proved business model to ensure economic sustainability. UNIDO subsequently built on this project and launched a major program called “Lighting Up Kenya” which has setup about 12 energy kiosks in Kenya.


Co-curricular and Extra-curricular Innovations:

(Annual) Invention 2 Venture Conference: (Role: Host and Organizer): One day workshop on the basics of technology entrepreneurship hosted every year since 2007. The mean attendance for the events is about 160 individuals and the budget varies between $12,000 and $24,000. Sponsors include various colleges, NCIIA, Ben Franklin Technology Partnerships, and RatnerPrestia.


(Annual) Milking the Rhino - Innovative Solutions Showcase: (Role: Originator and organizer) Student teams conceptualize innovative and sustainable solutions that leverage natural resources for self-determined development in Africa. Three-minute video pitches are refereed by a multi-disciplinary panel. (Inspired by the award-winning Milking the Rhino documentary)


AcademIK Connections: (Role: Originator and Producer) Producing a series of thirteen video clips of 6-8 minutes each capturing compelling stories about the importance of indigenous knowledge in developing entrepreneurial solutions to address global challenges and foster self-determined development. The video clips form the nucleus for learning modules that bring these concepts into the classroom.


Kochia Chronicles: Blogging short stories around the inhabitants of a small town in western Kenya – their trials and tribulations, and (mis)adventures with development projects. The stories offer readers a glimpse of life in developing communities in Africa, how the proverbial cookie crumbles in the African context, how the crumbs of failed projects become folk legends, and the humbling universality of the human condition.


Selected Grants:

(Grants under $10,000 (totaling about $110K) excluded)

Affordable Greenhouses: Improving Livelihoods while Fostering Food Security and Sustainabilty”, EPA P3 Grant Program, Aug 2012 - Aug 2013, $15,000, Role: PI


The Secret Life of Public Spaces”, Creative Campus Grant Initiative, Doris Duke Foundation, Jan 2011 - April 2012, $200,000, Role: Co-Investigator (Interdisciplinary team with faculty from Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Engineering, Dance and Performing Arts)


Mashavu: Networked Health Solutions for the Developing World”, NCIIA Sustainable Vision Program, Feb 2009 – Jan 2013, $46,850, National Instruments Equipment Grant, $10,000, Numerous small grants from IJSLE:CASE, Clinton Global Initiative University, and Corporate Sponsorship. Role: Principal Investigator (co-PI: Peter Butler, BIOE)


Social Entrepreneurship”, NCIIA Course Planning Grant, Apr 2010 - Jan 2010, $10,000, Role: Principal Investigator


Affordable Greenhouses: Means for Improved Livelihoods and Food Security”, NCIIA Sustainable Vision Grant, Feb 2012 - Aug 2014, $39,850, Role: Principal Investigator


Assessment of the eplum model of student engagement”, Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence (SITE), Penn State, Jan 2009 – Aug 2010, $15,709, Role: PI


"How Well-Networked Are Rural Women Agro-Entrepreneurs in Northern Tanzania? A Social Network Analysis Pilot Project", Social Science Research Institute, Penn State University, $14, 520, Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Ladi Semali, Education; Other Investigators: Audrey Maretzki, Jill Findeis)


From Research Lab to Product: Lab Automation Course to Enable Rapid Product Development”, NCIIA, Course and Program Development Grant to support “Sensor and Controller System Integration” Course, Oct 2006 – Apr 2009, $25,000, Role: Principal Investigator

“Sensor and Controller System Integration” course equipment grant, National Instruments, October 2006, $30,000 (equipment), Role: Principal Investigator


Design and Construction of a Hybrid Energy System in Kenya: The Precursor to a Manufacturing Capability”, National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), Advanced E-Team grant, March 2006 – Sept 2007, $12,000, Role: Principal Investigator


Selected Contracts:

(Grants under $10,000 excluded)

“Control software for the Fiber Instrument Feed for the Medium Resolution Spectroscope at the Hobby Eberly Telescope”, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Penn State University, 2005-2006, $22, 336, Role: Principal Investigator


“Roof Support Simulator for a long wall mine roof support control system”, United Mining Equipment, 2005, $4,000, Role: Principal Investigator


“Design of an ultra-low noise analog multiplexer and peak detector card for ultrasound transducers”, SecondWave Systems, Ultran Group, 2004-2005, $65,000, Role: Principal Investigator


“Spectrometer Data Acquisition and Analysis Suite to detect harmful bacteria in blood”, APD Life Sciences, 2003, $3,000, Role: Principal Investigator


“LabVIEW & FPGA Software Development for SmartResistor - Electronic Resistance Standard”, Ohm Labs, 2002-2007, Role: Co-Investigator


Panels and Workshops (Abstracts Refereed):

Dzombak, R., Butler, P., Mehta, K., "A Structured Methodology for Context-Driven Design of Biomedical Devices", BMES Annual Meeting, Hartford, CT, Oct 2011


Steiner, S., Mehta, K., Brock, D., "The Role of Business Models in Developing Innovations that Sustain Social Impact", US Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) Annual Conference, Hilton Head Island, Jan 2011


Building Quality by Prioritizing the Needs and Expectations of Host Communities” Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) Annual Conference, Philadelphia, November 2010 (Panel with Lynda Nyce, Anayeli Lopez, Thomas Meyers)


Is Social Entrepreneurship a Fad?” Panel Discussion, Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) Annual Conference, State College, October 2010 (Panel with Thomas Kruczek, Jeremy Seward, Peter Vandor)


Butler, P., Mehta, K., "Multifaceted engineering education is facilitated by design of medical devices for Kenya", Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Annual Fall Meeting, Austin, October 2010


For Whose Benefit”, Panel Discussion, NCIIA Annual Meeting, San Francisco, March 2010 (Panel with Toby Cumberbatch, Jeff Brown, Joshua Pearce)


Butler, P., Mehta, K., "Humanitarian engineering motivates students to use computational methods in design: medical devices for Kenya", Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Fall Meeting, Pittsburgh, October 2009


Workshop Host, “Sensor and Controller System Integration: A new course to promote High-Tech Entrepreneurship”, NCIIA Annual Meeting, Dallas, TX, March 2008


Creating Social Entrepreneurship Networks”, Panel Discussion, NCIIA Annual Meeting, Dallas, TX, March 2008 (Panel with Nancy Clement, Edward Coyle, Steve Nichols, Malu Roldan)


Social Entrepreneurship – Experiential Models for Practice and Profit”, Panel Discussion, United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX, January 2008. (Panel Leader: Phil Weilerstein, Other Panelists: Tom O'Neal, Robin Anderson)


Selected Invited Talks:

"Lunch Plenary Speaker,", 2013 Engineering Sustainability Conference, Pittsburgh, April 2013 (Upcoming)

"Solar Stews and Digital Funerals: Stories from East Africa,", Bluffton University Arts and Lecture Program, December 2012 (Upcoming)

"Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Private Sector Partnerships,", Africa Collaboration Colloquium, Penn State University, August 2012

"Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Ventures in East Africa,", Lecture Series - Countries of Focus: Kenya and Tanzania, Penn State New Kensington, October 2011

"Diversifying Undergraduate Instruction Exploring New Curricular Models for Global Engagement,", Instructional Development Workshop, The Commission on Racial/Ethnic Diversity (CORED), Penn State, September 2011

"Convergence and Emergence: Student Contributions to Academic Leadership,", Academic Contributions to Student Leadership Development Conference, Penn State, Sept 2011

"eplum Model of Student Engagement: Assessment Results", Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, Penn State, April 2011

"Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship", Nationally promoted Webinar, Design for the Majority Section, Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA), Feb 2011

"Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program", National Engineers Week Celebrations, Philips Healthcare, Reedsville, Feb 2011

"International Research + Entrepreneurship = Chaos in the Ivory Tower?", Scholarship and Research Ethics Brown Bag Series, Feb 2011

Behind the Scenes: HESE in Kenya”, Keynote Speech, International Education Week, Penn State University, November 2010 (Celebrating 100 years of internationalization at Penn State)

HESE @ Penn State: Opportunities for Collaboration”, Union College, Schenectady, October 2010

Applying Technology in Developing Nations: A Multi-Year Program”, Plenary Talk, Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) Annual Conference, State College, October 2010

Humanitarian Engineering”, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, October 2010

"Ethical Challenges in Research with Developing Communities", Scholarship and Research Ethics Brown Bag Series, Oct 2010

Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship”, ECE Colloquium, Villanova University, March 2010

Social Entrepreneurship and Integrated Engineering Design”, Keynote Presentation, National Engineers Week 2010 Luncheon, Penn State Berks and Berks County Technical Societies, Feb 2010

Cellphones, Social Networks and Development: Stories from Africa”, Annual General Meeting Presentation, United Nations Association of the United States of America, Centre County, Dec 2009

"Mashavu: Networked Health Solutions for the Developing World", Keynote Presentation, National Instruments Annual Conference - NI Week, Austin, TX, August 2009 (Link to Video on NI Website)

Interview by Cornell E-Clips: Mashavu project and Social Entrepreneurship (Link to Video clips on E-Clips Website)

Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship: Opportunities for Bioengineers”, Bioengineering Colloquium, Penn State University, January 2009

Social Entrepreneurship and Indigenous Knowledge", Interinstitutional Consortium for Indigenous Knowledge (ICIK), Penn State University, October 2008

Social Entrepreneurship”, Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) Honor Society Annual Banquet, Penn State University, April 2008.

Energy Solutions for Developing Countries”, Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) Annual Conference, Iowa City, Iowa, September 2006.

A Multidisciplinary Service-Learning Model applied in Kenya”, Poster at Conference for Service Learning in Engineering, National Academy of Engineering (NAE), Washington DC, May 2006

How Practical Academic Learning in Community Service Overseas Reflects Our Global Interdependence", Roundtable at Schreyer Honors College, Penn State University, September 2006


Selected Entrepreneurial Teams Mentored/Advised

POWER: Protection of Wrists through Exercise: Smartglove and exercise regimen that significantly reduces the chances of Carpal Tunnel problems. PATCI seed funding and provisional patent obtained. Alpha testing in progress.

Trackit: Low-cost quick-start RFID tagging and database system. Alpha testing in progress.
Briobody, Voted Best Small Business Idea for April 2008 on ( + $10,000 award)

Buzby Networks, Received NCIIA Advanced E-Team funding, PATCI, Ben Franklin Technology Partnerships, etc.

BlueToe: Skiing Enhancement System, Global Idea to Product Competition, UT Austin, November 2007

Mobile-to-Mobile Disaster Relief System, (In collaboration with Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China), Entry for Mondialogo Engineering Award, May 2007

Wind Energy Feasibility Assessment Tool, (In collaboration with Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China), Entry for Mondialogo Engineering Award, May 2007

Sustainable Windmill Manufacturing Company, National Idea to Product Competition for Social Entrepreneurship, Princeton University, March 2007

Deployment of laptop computers and Opportunity Evaluation for Social Entrepreneurial Ventures in Tanzania, CASE-IJSLE grant - $1,000

Impetus: Empowering Change, Nguvu agricultural utility system, Presented at PSU Undergraduate Research Exhibition


Professional Activities

Co-Leading various projects and activities at the Inter-institutional Consortium for Indigenous Knowledge (ICIK) at Penn State

Program Committee, First International Symposium on Intelligent Mobile Technologies for Social Change (IMT4SC'09), Mragowo, Poland, October 2009

Chair, Data Analysis and Signal Conditioning Session, COE Research Symposium, 2009, 2010

Reviewer for the Handbook of Technology Management (John Wiley and Sons, Forthcoming)

Reviewer for American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) publications

Reviewer for International Journal for Service Learning in Engineering

Reviewer for Prentice Hall Publishing House

Reviewer for National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) publications

Reviewer for TIC-STH Symposium on Sustainable Development

“Featured Guest Advisor” on



Programming Languages: LabVIEW, C / C++, Java, x86 / PIC processors, MATLAB, JavaScript

Hardware Design: Extensive hands-on experience in digital / mixed signal hardware design and troubleshooting, worked with a variety of FPGAs, microprocessors, microcontrollers & embedded systems. Familiar with VHDL, Verilog, SpecMan Elite, IBM Rulebase, OVL, MAGIC, HSpice, PSpice



Traveled extensively in thirty two countries; can speak seven languages (at various levels)

Amateur photographer; photos published in several magazines, textbooks and commercial websites

Certified Professional Bartender