Humanitarian Engineering

Humanitarian Engineering, a course that focuses on engineering in under-resourced communities, was developed and launched fall 2023 by Mike Marsolek, a J.S. Braun/Braun Intertec Visiting Professor from Seattle University. 

Mike Marsolek’s visit is made possible by the philanthropic support of the J.S. Braun/Braun Intertec Visiting Professorship. The J. S. Braun/Braun Intertec Professorship in Science and Technology was founded by Jack Braun and Braun Intertec Corporation to support bringing outstanding scholars from other universities to CEGE as visiting professors to address issues related to environmental, geotechnical, construction materials, and pavement engineering, as well as hydrogeology, chemistry, and industrial hygiene techniques. 

Marsolek, currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Seattle University, sought out an opportunity at UMN for his sabbatical year. Marsolek is from River Falls, Wisconsin, and earned his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from UMN. Marsolek has participated in several projects through Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and other humanitarian engineering projects through Seattle University. He is sharing his unique perspective with UMN students. Marsolek will also make a presentation to engineers at Braun Intertec.

Paige Novak, CEGE Department Head said, “This is an exciting possibility. Mike will be here for the fall 2023 semester. I think that a course focused on environmental engineering for under-resourced communities will be particularly interesting to CEGE students and popular with students across the college.” 

Novak hopes to continue the theme with a similar class taught by CEGE faculty after Marsolek’s visit is over, noting that “Humanitarian Engineering is a timely topic, important for developing innovative engineers, which is our mission in CEGE.”

Course Description

CEGE 4160 Special Topics - Introduction to Humanitarian Engineering with Emphasis on Appropriate Environmental Engineering Technologies covers topics including identifying and funding projects, meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, water and wastewater treatment, resource recovery options, utility of off-grid electrical systems, and the role of environmental engineers in Peace Engineering. 

Marsolek highlights projects he has completed, and brings in a few guest lecturers to emphasize real lessons learned while working in under-resourced communities. He will also focus on appropriate technologies, lessons learned, and best practices.