If your ideal job means having the opportunity to impact the world in a positive way while achieving personal and professional fulfillment—instead of just securing a steady paycheck and proper health care—you’re not alone.
According to an international study conducted by Deloitte in 2015, many millennials are driven by work that promotes innovation and sustainability, and over 50 percent would take a pay cut if it meant finding work in alignment with their personal values. In addition, 75 percent voiced concern that companies aren’t interested in improving society as a whole.
Sensing the high importance placed on sparking change and serving the greater good, some colleges are now offering an additional STEM major for students to choose from: Humanitarian Engineering.
While the profession of engineering naturally lends itself to improving societies—engineers create infrastructure, solve problems, and create devices to make day-to-day life easier—humanitarian engineering provides these vital services to societies that are struggling the most.
According to engineer and documentary filmmaker Sheena Ong, engineers have a skill set and knowledge base that can enact profound change.
“People don’t think much about the connection between engineering and humanity. Shower-time is rarely a cause to extol the marvels of engineers who built pipelines and valves, and conversely, thinking about engineering rarely conjures up ‘humanitarian’ images.
It’s time to reframe the picture. It’s time to repaint the portrait of the engineer, to reclaim our identity as a profession that wields the powers of science, innovation, analysis, and practical knowledge to benefit humanity.”
Oregon State University recently joined the ranks of schools offering this major, which they describe as the use of science or engineering to improve access to basic human needs, increase quality of life, and promote community resilience. They see this as a way to get a new group of students involved in STEM fields—those who would have traditionally opted for majors in human services or community organization.
Are you interested in learning more about Humanitarian Engineering?
Check out a project completed by Humanitarian Engineering students from the Colorado School of Mines.
Discover Sheena Ong’s documentary, “The Humanitarian Engineer.”
Read more about field findings and research by reading through the Journal of Humanitarian Engineering.