What is Humanitarian Engineering?

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Want to use your skills in Engineering to help build a better world for individuals and communities? A career as a Humanitarian Engineer could be perfect for you. So what is Humanitarian Engineering and what kind of work does studying Humanitarian Engineering in Australia lead to?

Interested in studying Humanitarian Engineering as a minor? Learn more.

What is Humanitarian Engineering?

Humanitarian Engineering is the application of engineering knowledge and expertise to improve living conditions for individuals and communities living with disadvantages. It meets the needs of communities and focuses on appropriate and sustainable solutions devised in partnership with the communities. Humanitarian Engineering covers a range of activities in Australia and overseas from community welfare and disaster relief, response and preparedness to long-term sustainable community development and social change.

What does a Humanitarian Engineer do?

Humanitarian Engineers analyse and design infrastructure and appropriate technology to support the environment and improve the standard of living and welfare of communities in disadvantaged circumstances. Humanitarian Engineering is undertaken through partnership and consultation with the end user to identify solutions that are suitable, appropriate and sustainable. This includes communities in low and middle-income countries, as well as marginalised or remote communities in Australia.

Humanitarian Engineering Students outside village hospital

How did Humanitarian Engineering begin?

Humanitarian Engineering in Australia and abroad is a newer engineering specialisation. As Engineering established itself as a profession, professional organisations, such as the National Society of Professional Engineers, began to adopt codes of ethics. These codes outlined the obligations engineers have to society, Humanitarian Engineering is an example of these codes in practice. The first Humanitarian Engineering minor was created in 2003. Today the need for these unique skills is more in demand than ever which is why UNSW offers one of the few Humanitarian Engineering minors in the Southern Hemisphere.

Humanitarian Engineers working on Agriculture project

Skills of Humanitarian Engineers

Humanitarian Engineers are able to apply engineering skills, knowledge and methods to solving humanitarian problems. As well as a solid background in mathematics, natural sciences and computing, Humanitarian Engineers need to be aware of and work within the relevant cultural, social and economic constraints of the client community.

Humanitarian skills such as critical thinking and problem solving are also important for the successful planning and implementation of humanitarian projects. Almost all of the skills Humanitarian Engineers possess are highly valued in other areas of engineering from Mining to Environmental, Computer Science to Mechanical.

UNSW Students talking with community experts

Qualifications of a Humanitarian Engineer

Studying Humanitarian Engineering complements existing engineering disciplines and prepares you to work in challenging and diverse situations to help disadvantaged people and communities, and contribute to global development, the environment and sustainability. Humanitarian Engineering has a lot in common with other disciplines of engineering. You can study Humanitarian Engineering as a minor or in stand-alone subjects.

Person holding harvested grain from Humanitarian Engineering agricultural project

Why become a Humanitarian Engineer?

Studying Humanitarian Engineering gives you the tools to make a difference in the world, applying sustainable and innovative technologies to solve problems, help the disadvantaged and improve the quality of life of communities in need, both in Australia and internationally.

Become part of a new generation of global leaders who support empowerment and aim to engineer a sustainable world.

Humanitarian Engineering FAQ's

Humanitarian engineering is a complementary skill to existing engineering disciplines and prepares you to work in challenging and diverse situations to help disadvantaged and disempowered communities and individuals and contribute to global development, environment and sustainability and sustainable energy solutions.

Humanitarian engineers are specialist professionals who can address problems in disadvantaged communities and societies around the world, providing engineering solutions that improve their lives and make the world better.

Studying a specialised humanitarian engineering minor as part of your engineering degree will provide you with strong skills and knowledge to enter the humanitarian engineering industry.

Humanitarian engineering lets you combine your skills as an engineer with skills in humanitarian practice to address problems relating to inequities and lack of access to essential services in disadvantaged communities, contributing to a more equitable and sustainable world.

Science and engineering play an important role in identifying environmental problems and developing effective solutions. They also enable sustainable development.

Want to learn more about our Humanitarian Engineering minor?

Would you like more information about what studying a minor in Humanitarian Engineering looks like at UNSW? Are you curious whether you can complete this minor with your chosen degree? We're here to help with more information and student advisors at the ready.

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