Why Development Engineering

Also known as “humanitarian engineering,” “engineering for change,” or “engineering for impact,” Development Engineering is a field of research and practice that combines the principles of engineering with economics, entrepreneurship, design, business, natural resources, and social science to create technology interventions in accordance with and for individuals living in low-resource settings. While most people associate these settings with “developing” or “low income” countries, Development Engineering equips practitioners to work on societal problems wherever they exist, whether in California or Bangladesh.

Development Engineering concerns “wicked” systems problems that are highly complex. Wicked problems, as defined by late UC Berkeley Design Science Professor Horst Rittel, are not linear or rule based. Solving, let alone addressing, wicked problems requires intimate knowledge of the problem context, which is too often overlooked and causes initiatives that implement technology or other approaches for development to fail. To gain traction on solving problems with complex societal and ecological dimensions, it is dangerous to rely on engineering training alone, which is often deeply technical.

Graduates of the MDevEng program will be well positioned to look at wicked problems holistically and cross-disciplinarily, as well as to take advantage of the rising importance of technological interventions and assessments in the development sector and the need for development engineers in the public and corporate sectors.

If you are a PhD student interested in pursuing the minor in Development Engineering (the DevEng designated emphasis) follow this link.

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