HESE offers a series of five courses that are open to upper-division undergraduate and graduate students from all majors and colleges across Penn State. Typically, half the students are engineering students while the rest come from other colleges at the university - with more than half of the students typically being women. Freshman and sophomores with prior community engagement experience can participate with approval from the program director. 

ENGR 451 [3]: Social Entrepreneurship

Pre-requisites: Fifth semester standing 

This course provides students a conceptual framework of social entrepreneurship in the global arena. It explores social challenges and solutions with a systems-thinking approach with the help of case studies of successful and failed social ventures from diverse world regions and fields like healthcare, energy, food, education, income generation, access to capital, etc. Students work in multi-disciplinary teams to develop business models and implementation strategies for real social ventures in the United States, Africa, South Asia, and Central America. 

EDSGN 452 [2]: Projects in Humanitarian Engineering

Concurrent: EDSGN 453

Students undertake technology-based social entrepreneurial ventures in cooperation with partnering academic and community organizations. There are several sections of this course that focus on ventures in various countries, and change from year to year. Students work in cross-functional teams on the various design, testing, and commercialization/implementation aspects of their ventures. The course offers multi-disciplinary real-world integrated engineering research and design experience, from problem formulation through assessment of performance. Students are required to concurrently register for the EDSGN 453 class. 

EDSGN 453 [1]: Design for Developing Communities

Concurrent: EDSGN 452

The Design for Developing Communities seminar course grounds students in EDSGN 452, BIOE 401, and other related courses in the basics of humanitarian design, user-centered design for extreme affordability, social entrepreneurship, systems thinking, travel and fieldwork, and related issues for technology-based social ventures in developing communities. One section of this class focuses on the international context and another section on the American context. An honors section of this class is also offered. 

EDSGN 454 [0.5]: HESE Field Experience

Pre-requisites: EDSGN 452 & EDSGN 453

The HESE Field Experience is a hands-on integrated learning, research, and entrepreneurial engagement experience for students that have been working on various HESE ventures in the Spring semester. Students travel to project site(s) for about three weeks in the Maymester to conduct field-testing of their technologies, test their preliminary business models, gather data for their research projects, etc. They work very closely with community members and various partnering agencies during that time. The partnering agencies range from community members to local schools, non-profits, community-based organizations, and governmental and United Nations agencies. 

ENGR 455 [3]: HESE Reflection and Research Dissemination 

Pre-requisites: EDSGN 454

This course provides students with an opportunity to reflect and build upon their experiences following travel to a partnering community to advance their HESE venture. There are three intertwined tracks in this course. One track explores the ethical intricacies of conducting research and advancing entrepreneurial ventures in developing communities. The grassroots diplomacy tracks delves into the complicated and delicate challenges of working in developing communities . The grassroots diplomacy track delves into the complicated and delicate challenges of working in developing communities in a harmonious and effective manner. Most HESE students are engaged in an IRB-approved research study related to their venture, for which they gather data during the summer field experience. The research dissemination track provides students with just-in-time information and skill-sets necessary for developing their research manuscripts. 

Minors and Certificates

ENTI Minor

The Social Entrepreneurship Cluster of the ENTI minor prepares students to effect sustainable and scalable social impact within marginalized communities in the United States and abroad. Classes are based in the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program. The quest is to develop and deliver solutions that are technologically appropriate, environmentally benign, socially acceptable and economically sustainable.

This cluster provides immersive, collaborative, multidisciplinary active-learning experiences that ground students in user-centered design for extreme affordability, systems thinking, ethical reflection and scholarly research. Students work on multi-year social ventures and engage with partnering communities in the United States, East Africa and other regions to research, design, field-test and commercialize their ventures. Students engage in participatory action research (PAR) during their fieldwork in various countries. They engage in scholarly research with the objective of publishing the findings in refereed journals and conference proceedings.

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Certificate in Engineering and Community Engagement

Undergraduate students (from all disciplines) can earn the Certificate in Engineering and Community Engagement by completing all HESE courses. Students need a total of 12 credits for the certificate: HESE courses + one elective from a long list of acceptable courses.

This certificate is intended to acknowledge students who have gained proficiency in design, research and application of appropriate technologies for use in serving communities in the U.S. and abroad while stressing an awareness of the cultural context of such engineering activities. Collaborations with communities are strongly encouraged along with emphasis on the importance of ethical considerations in collaborating/working in community settings.

Core requirements for the certificate program include courses in both: a) Community Engagement, and b) U.S. and International Cultures. These courses may be scheduled to satisfy general education requirements (GS/GH/US/IL) depending on the courses selected. Beyond that, students have various course options available to them to complete the 12 credits requirement for the certificate including project-based courses in: a) design, b) entrepreneurship, and c) leadership, which is satisfied upon completion of all HESE courses + the one elective mentioned above.

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Grand Challenge Scholars Program

The National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program is a combined curricular and extra-curricular program with five components that are designed to prepare students to be the generation that solves the grand challenges facing society in this century.

In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering identified 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century. The Grand Challenges are a call to action and serve as a focal point for society’s attention to opportunities and challenges affecting our quality of life. Their list includes making solar energy economical, preventing nuclear terror, advancing health informatics, clean water and reverse engineering the human brain. None of them are just devices. Nearly all address complex social issues that require innovative technology and a systems approach to solve but cannot be solved in a vacuum. They will also require engineers to shape public policy, transfer technical innovation to the market place, and to inform and be informed by social science and the humanities. These are challenges to “change the world,” and many of them are inherently global.

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The School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs (SEDTAPP) delivers effective engineering education and unrivaled research opportunities through active, collaborative, project-based, and professionally oriented classroom experiences. SEDTAPP offers a variety of programs that partner faculty, students, and industry in the study of real-life engineering problems. Our programs teach students to solve real-life problems with innovative solutions. 

School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs

213 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-2952