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Spring 2016


Textbook: Humanitarian Engineering: Creating Technologies That Help People, Edition 2 (free download):

  • There are documents at this site for solving homework problems, and ones referenced in the book bibliography.  
  • The Matlab/Simulink code for simulations in the book and homework assignments is at this site.

Participatory Appropriate Technology Development Project, Homeworks, and Grading: This link holds a document that has detailed information on grading, homeworks, and the midterm/final project on participatory appropriate technology development:

  1. Homeworks: Eight homework assignments are given below by referring to problems given in the textbook as "X.Y" where X is the chapter number and Y is the problem number in the chapter. Due dates are included. Homework problem numbering is per Edition 2 of the book.
  2. Project teams: Team membership is assigned.  See the team assignments and email addresses of everyone in class so you can contact your team members. 
  3. Midterm and Final Projects: These are assigned now (in the document linked to above) and you and your team should get organized and get to work on them right away.  The two associated "Design Reviews" are also assigned.  See all deadlines below.  
  4. Final Project presentations and reports (given below, after they were completed)


Download Matlab/Simulink: OSU students should download the latest version of Matlab/Simulink by clicking here. You will need this for some homework problems, and the use of it will be explained in class via a tutorial.

Electronic Submission: All assignments must be submitted electronically to the Carmen site for the class, not to the instructor or TA.  Please use a .doc or .pdf file format for all submissions. Carmen automatically checks for overlap with all submissions, this year, and in the past, along with all internet sources.  Significant overlap with other non-referenced material may constitute plagiarism and if this is suspected, the case will be submitted to the OSU Committee on Academic Misconduct for their evaluation.


  • Slides: Click here and here to download slides for lectures delivered to date.
  • Video: Recorded lectures are linked to below; click on "Lecture X" in each case.


Week 1, Jan 11-15: A Close Up View of Poverty and Development: A Case Study

Lecture 1: Introduction: Introductions, overview of course/book, assignments/grading, and collaborative learning approach for participatory technology design. Discussion: Suffering, Part 1.

Lecture 2: Living on One Dollar: Video "Living on One Dollar" in Guatemala, viewed in class (It is also available on iTunes and NETFLIX).

Lecture 3: Guatemala Up Close:  Discussion on "Living on One Dollar," aspects of poverty and context, technological solutions, solidarity challenge. Discussion: Suffering, Part 2.

Homework 1: Assigned Jan. 11, due Mon., Feb. 1 (see below). Read the first paragraph of Section 1.7 about how to summarize/critique. Problems: 1.1, 1.3, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.16, 1.17, 1.19, 1.21, 1.22, 1.23, 1.24, 1.25, 1.26.

Due: Project team leader choice, and group communication strategy choice, due Fri., Jan. 15 by 3pm (provide via an email to Prof. Passino).  Project choice due by Fri., Jan. 22 (see below).  See assignments document above.

Week 2, Jan 18-22: Poverty and Development: Global and US

Jan. 18, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., day, no class

Lecture 4: World Poverty and Development: Income poverty, income inequality (Gini index), human development index (HDI) and inequality-adjusted human development index (IHDI), gender inequality, technology data; UN Public data explorer, World Bank data visualizer; Related data on orphans, homelessness, human trafficking/slavery. 

Lecture 5: US Poverty: People who are homeless, up close view; homelessness data, poverty line and data, comparative analysis with OECD (poverty, inequality, mobility). Discussion: Privilege.  After-Class Discussion: Working with people who are homeless in central Ohio.

Due: Project choice due by Fri., Jan. 22, by 3pm (provide a few-sentence description via an email to Prof. Passino). See assignments document above.

Week 3, Jan 25-29: Sustainable Development and Culture

Lecture 6: Sustainable Development: Ecosystem services, pollution (air/climate, soil, water), planetary boundaries, UN Sustainable Development Goals. Discussion: Gratitude.

Lecture 7: Culture and Roles: Culture, importance of cross-cultural understanding, cross-cultural conversation, World Values Survey. "Degrees" of humanitarian engineering; roles, motivations for engineers. Discussion: Culture, Part 1.

Lecture 8: Introduction to Models and Dynamics: Influence diagram models of individual poverty and community issues, tutorial on Simulink models: signals, systems, and dynamics. Discussion: Culture, Part 2.  After-Class Discussion: The Culture of Colombia (by students from Colombia).

Week 4, Feb 1-5: Models, Dynamics, and Analysis of Poverty and Sustainability

Lecture 9: Dynamical Models of Poverty: Life-time budget simulator example, dynamical model of poverty in Simulink, computational analysis of well-being. Risk and suffering. Discussion: Dignity, Part 1.

Lecture 10: Financial Management for Low-Income People: Proportional-integral-derivative control as a financial advisor, tuning and performance, computational analysis. Implementation strategies. Discussion: Dignity, Part 2.

Lecture 11: Development and Sustainability: Dynamical model of the tragedy of the commons, how utilization and population impact resource dynamics and the occurrence of the tragedy. Discussion: Rights, Part 1.

Due: Homework 1 is due Mon., Feb. 1, at 3pm.  

Homework 2: Assigned Feb. 1, due Mon., Feb. 15 (see below). Problems: 1.29, 1.30, 1.31, 1.32, 1.33.

Week 5, Feb 8-12: Social Justice: Rights, Inequalities, and Religious Perspectives

Lecture 12: Human Rights and Inequality: Human rights and inequality introduction, engineers' role in inequality of technological capacity.  Discussion: Rights, Part 2.

Lecture 13: Catholic Social Justice: Catholic social doctrine, rights, principles, role in technological capacity. Discussion: Justice, Part 1.

Lecture 14: Hindu and Islamic Social Justice: Hindu social justice, caste system, reform movements; Islamic social justice, charity, relevance to humanitarian engineering.  Discussion: Justice, Part 2.

Due: Design Review 1 assignment due Fri., Feb. 12, at 3pm. See assignments document above.

Week 6, Feb 15-19: Social Justice: Secular Perspectives and Engineering Ethics

Lecture 15: John Rawls's Justice as Fairness (fair systems, overlapping concensus, principles of justice, principles of justice for engineers); Amartya Sen's "Idea of Justice," "Development as Freedom" (capabilities approach, opportunities, freedoms; role in identifying essential technologies).

Lecture 16: Engineering Ethics and Social Justice: Engineering ethics and social justice, comparisons, role in humanitarian engineering.

Lecture 17: Analysis of Distributive Justice: Influence diagram models of social justice systems.  Models of distributive justice, model and computational analysis of a wealth distribution policy in a poor community, equal/poor-skewed/rich-skewed communities.

Due: Homework 2 is due Mon., Feb. 15, at 3pm.  

Due: Design Review 1 assignment resubmissions due by Fri., Feb. 19 at 3pm. See assignments document above.

Homework 3: Assigned Mon. Feb 15, due Fri Feb 26.  Problems 2.2, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.10, 2.12, 2.15(b), 2.16, 2.19, 2.23, 2.25, 2.27, 2.28.

Week 7, Feb 22-26: Models, Dynamics, and Analysis of Social and Evironmental Justice

Lecture 18: Analysis of Integrated Participatory and Distributive Justice: Model and computational analysis of democracy and distributive justice in a poor community (distributed optimization), equal/poor-skewed/rich-skewed communities.

Lecture 19: Analysis of Environmental Justice: Modeling and analysis of the dynamics of environmental justice, environmental justice policy, impact of development and population on the policy and the tragedy of the commons.  Introduction to society, technological change, and development. 

Lecture 20: Sachs and Easterly: Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities of Our Time; William Easterly, The White Man's Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good.

Due: Homework 3, Fri Feb 26, 3pm.

Homework 4: Assigned Fri. Feb 26, due Fri. March 11 (see below). Problems 2.31, 2.34, 2.36, 2.38.

Week 8, Feb 29-March 4: Development Strategies

Lecture 21: Banerjee and Duflo, Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty.

Lecture 22: Global Health Perspective: Health/development problems up close, health initiatives and statistics, determinants of health, socioecological model, environmental health, technology for health.  Discussion: Development, Part 1.

Lecture 23: International Education Perspective: Education initiatives and statistics, utilitarian and transformational perspectives, school access and attendance, educational quality and outcomes, technical and vocational education and training, political learning, STEM education expectations.

Due: Written Midterm Project report due by Fri., March 4, at 3pm (one report per team). Team leaders email Prof. Passino to set up oral report meeting.  See assignments document above.

Week 9, March 7-11: Social Business Perspective and Models, Dynamics, and Analysis of Sustainable Development

Lecture 24: Polak and Warwick: The Business Solution to Poverty: Approach, zero-based design, customers, contrast with traditional development, rationale for business approach, marketing.  Discussion: Development, Part 2.

Lecture 25: Analysis of Poverty Traps: Mathematical and computational analysis of economic growth and poverty traps (coupled nonlinear ordinary differential equation models, equilibria, and stability/instability).

Lecture 26: Technology Diffusion and Sustainable Development: Mathematical and computational analysis of technology diffusion impact on economic development.  Computational anlaysis of capital investment, provisioning, and democracy for breaking poverty traps; Computational analysis of feedback control for management of the commons, effects of development and population increases.

Due: Homework 4 due Fri. March 11, 3pm.

Homework 5: Assigned Mon. March 11, due Fri. March 25 (see below).  Problems 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.7, 3.8, 3.11, 3.12, 3.15, 3.17, 3.18, 3.19, 3.20, 3.22, 3.25.

OSU Spring Break: March 12-20

Week 10: March 21-25: The Engineer as a Helper, Participatory Community Development

Lecture 27: The Engineer as a Helper: The helping process, elements of success, helper-client relationship, communication skills, problem-management and opportunity development. 

Lecture 28: Community Development: Challenges of oppression, empowerment, resistance to change; symptoms vs. root causes, importance of relationships, theoretical frameworks (e.g., appreciative inquiry). Discussion: Helping, Part 1.

Lecture 29: Participatory Development:  Participatory development features, process, challenges; participative action research (PAR). 

Due: Homework 5 due Fri. March 25, 3pm.

Homework 6: Assigned Fri. March 25, due Mon. April 4 (see below). Problems 3.26, 3.30, 3.31.

Week 11, March 28-April 1: Teamwork, Community Assessment, and Project Selection

Lecture 30: Teamwork: Principles of cooperation and effective teamwork, project management processes.  Discussion: Helping, Part 2.

Lecture 31: Community Assessment: Learning about a community.  Needs and resources assessment; research, interviews, focus groups, surveys; analysis; monitoring, evaluation. 

Lecture 32: Project Selection: Social justice goals, alternatives, criteria, assessments, priorities, combinations of these; slection strategies; robust selection.  Discussion: Helping, Part 3.

Due: Design Review 2 assignment due by Fri., April 1, at 3pm. See assignments document above.

Homework 7: Assigned Fri. April 1, due April 15 (see below). Problems 4.1, 4.2, 4.4, 4.17, 4.24, 4.32, 4.33, 4.38, 4.40, 4.42, 4.56 [Optional: 4.8, 4.13, 4.14].

Week 12, April 4-8: Humanitarian Technologies and Participatory Technology Development

Lecture 33: Humanitarian Technology/Appropriate Technology: Introduction to participatory humanitarian technology development.  The technology maturity spectrum, extreme design constraints and unusual design trade-offs, appropriate technology (personal and community, role of modularity).

Lecture 34: Humanitarian Technology Examples: Technologies for the homeless: shelter, cart, lighting, heating, sanitation.  Technology evaluation for communities/NGOs.  Humanitarian systems engineering: sweatshops, wide-area problems and fighting structural injustices.  Discussion: Technology.

Lecture 35: Participatory Technology Development: Finding opportunties; flexible planning; needs; specifications; concept generation, selection, and testing; architecture and industrial design; design for environment; design for manufacturing; prototypes; robustness; economics; project management (product level).

Due: Homework 6 due Mon. April 4, 3pm.

Due: Design Review 2 assignment resubmissions due by Fri., April 8 at 3pm. See assignments document above.

Week 13, April 11-15: Humanitarian STEM Education, Outcome Assessment, and Scale-Up

Lecture 36: Humanitarian STEM Education Programs: International STEM education program examples, background, context, approaches. Discussion.

Lecture 37: Humanitarian STEM Education Program/Project Design: Principles of international STEM education (e.g., STEM education targets, STEM instruction in context, crossing language barriers, relevance of culture and context), participatory STEM education program design, instructional technology, hands-on experiments for K-12 and university. A program in STEM education for sustainable development.

Lecture 38: Outcome Assessment, Scale-Up, and Information Sources: Outcome assessment strategies, RCTs, design for scale, participatory social business, dissemination, scale-up.  Information sources for humanitarian engineering: Humanitarian/appropriate technology information sources, web sites, conferences, journals, etc.

Due: Homework 7 due Fri. April 15, 3pm.

Week 14: April 18-22: Models, Dynamics, and Analysis of Sociotechnological Systems

Lecture 39: Humanitarian Engineering Fieldwork:  Project principles and best practices.  OSU Humanitarian Engineering Center, project opportunities.

Lecture 40: Cooperative Management of Community Technology: People vs. automation for management, model of automated management, computational analysis for equality/inequality cases.

Lecture 41: Modeling and Analysis of Community Dynamics: Mathematical model of technologies embedded in a community, simulation of influence of technologies on community dynamics, sustainable community development indices (SCDI), Monte Carlo simulation of effects of technologies on sustainable community development. Computational humanitarianism.

Homework 8: Assigned Mon. April 18, due Mon. April 25 (see below). Problems 4.57, 4.59, 4.64.

Week 15: April 25:  The 10 Principles of Humanitarian Engineering

Lecture 42: The 10 Principles of Humanitarian Engineering: A summary of the key ideas from this class.

Due: Homework 8 due Mon. April 25, 3pm.

Due: Written Final Project report due by Mon., April 25, at 3pm. See assignments document above.

April 29, 4:00pm-5:45pm, Scott Labs, E024: Final Exam Period:

Appropriate Technology Final Design Reports: