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Spring 2014


Book: Used book, Edition 1.


Slides for Lectures: Click here and here to download slides for lectures delivered to date.

Video/audio recordings of lectures: Lectures recorded are linked to below. Click on "Lecture X" each week (note that due to technical problems, some lectures are not yet posted, but they will be by April 28).

Instructions on Assignments:

Electronic Submission: All assignments must be turned in electronically to the Carmen site for the class, not to the instructor.  Use a .pdf file format for all submissions.

Homeworks: These are all given below, including the due dates (most by referring to problems given in the book as "HW-X.Y" where X is the chapter number and Y is the problem number).

Book report: The book report assignment is described here (given now, due date at end of class, given in the assignment).  Buy the book now and start reading it. You could buy it off the web, e.g., at, or see if it is in the library.

Midterm and Final Project: These projects are assigned now, with due dates given in the project description.  A team of two persons (no more, no less) is required.  Read the guidelines, then find a partner now.

Final Exam: There will be an on-line final exam that will be assigned later.  It will be short, taking less than 30 minutes.

Grading (tentative):

  • Homework: 45%
  • Book report: 15%
  • Midterm project: 15%
  • Final Project: 25%

Week 1, Jan 6-10: Poverty and Development Up Close: A Case Study

Homework 1 assigned (due on Jan 27 at 3 pm): HW 1.1-1.6, 1.8, 1.17-1.22

Lecture 1:  Quick overview slides and/or  video overview.

Lecture 2: View video, "Living on One Dollar" (in Guatemala)

Lecture 3: Discussion on "Living on One Dollar": Aspects of poverty up close (e.g., relationships, conditions, emotions, spending time, social mobility, language and labels); Solidarity Challenge; Context in Guatemala, other issues. View UNDP "Beyond Scarcity" video; discussion (conditions in Africa, interconnectedness of issues).

Week 2, Jan 13-17: Poverty and Development: Global and US

Lecture 1: UN Millennium Development Goals; Income poverty, income inequality, human development index, gender inequality, technology data; Public data explorer, World Bank data visualizer; Related data on orphans, homelessness, human trafficking/slavery

Lecture 2: US poverty: View "The Line" video, discussion; poverty line and data, inequality data, discussion

Lecture 3: US poverty: View videos on people who are homeless, discussion; Homelessness data; Comparative studies between the US and other countries (poverty, inequality, mobility)

Week 3, Jan 20-24: Culture and Principles of Humanitarian Engineering

(2 lectures, third slot is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)

Lecture 1: Culture: Why it is important, Up close; World Values Survey and culture from a distance; Giving; Quality of Life; Happiness, Mood

Lecture 2: Principles of humanitarian engineering: Motivation, roles, priorities, degrees of humanitarian engineering, design methodology, computational humanitarianism and the automation of helping people (overview)

Week 4, Jan 27-31: Models and Analysis of Individual Poverty

Homework 1 due on Jan 27 at 3pm.

Homework 2 assigned (due on Feb. 7, 3pm): SHW-1.1 to SHW-1.5 (inclusive) and Read book Chapter 2: Social Justice.

Lecture 1: Influence diagram models of individual poverty and community issues, tutorial on Simulink models: signals, systems, and dynamics

Lecture 2: Tutorial on Simulink models: dynamics, feedback, and feedback control, life-time budget simulator example

Lecture 3: Dynamical model of individual poverty and a story of risk and suffering, computational analysis of impact of spending strategy on well-being (stochastic, discrete-time, nonlinear model, Monte Carlo simulations/statistical analysis)

Week 5, Feb 3-7: Social justice: Rights, Inequalities, and Religious Perspectives

Homework 3 assigned (due Feb 17, 3pm): HW-2.2, 2.5, 2.10, (you may substitute 2.5 or 2.10 for 2.11, 2.12, or 2.13), 2.16, 2.20, 2.22, 2.25, 2.29

Lecture 1: Human rights and inequality introduction, engineers' role in inequality of technological capacity

Lecture 2: Catholic social doctrine, role in "preferential option for those poor in technological capacity"

Lecture 3: Islamic ethics and Jewish social justice, relevance to engineers who volunteer

Homework 2 due on Feb. 7, 3pm

Week 6, Feb 10-14: Social Justice: Secular Perspectives and Engineering Ethics

Lecture 1: John Rawls's justice as fairness, principles of justice for engineers

Lecture 2: Amartya Sen's idea of justice and capabilities approach, role in identifying essential technologies

Lecture 3: Engineering ethics and social justice, role in humanitarian engineering

Week 7, Feb 17-21: Models and Analysis of Social Justice

Homework 3 due Feb 17 at 3pm

Midterm project due Feb. 21, 3pm

Lecture 1: Influence diagram models of social justice systems, models of particapatory justice and distributive justice

Lecture 2: Models of distributive justice, model and computatonal analysis of a wealth distribution policy in a poor community (nonlinear distributed discrete time dynamical system model, Monte Carlo simulations/statistical analysis)

Lecture 3: Model and computational analysis of democracy and distributive justice issues in a poor community (distributed optimization)

Homework 4 assigned Feb 21 (due March 3): SHW-2.2, SHW-2.3, SHW-2.4, SHW-2.5, SHW-2.7

Week 8, Feb 24-28: Development Strategies

Lecture 1: Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities of Our Time

Lecture 2: Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities of Our Time

Lecture 3: 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

Week 9, March 3-7: Development Strategies

Homework 4 due March 3, 3pm

Homework 5 assigned March 3 (due March 21): HW-3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9, 3.11, 3.12, 3.13 (option for a relaxing break: view the video from HW-3.1)


Lecture 1: Banerjee and Duflo, Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty

Lecture 2: Banerjee and Duflo, Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty

Lecture 3: Polak and Warwick: The Social Business Solution to Poverty


Week 10: March 17-21: Modeling and Analysis of Development Strategies

Lecture 1: Polak and Warwick: The Social Business Solution to Poverty

Lecture 2: Economic growth and poverty traps, impact of technology quality and technology diffusion (coupled nonlinear ordinary differential equation models, equilibria, and stability/instability)

Lecture 3: Capital investment, provisioning, and democracy for breaking poverty traps (nonlinear distributed discrete time models, Monte Carlo simulations/statistical analysis)

Homework 5 due March 21, 3pm

Homework 6 assigned March 21 (due March 31): SHW-3.1, SHW-3.2, SHW-3.4 (Optional: SHW-3.3)

Week 11, March 24-28: Engineering for Community Development: Participatory Technology Development

Lecture 1: Community development: Challenges (oppression, empowerment, resistance to change, symptoms vs. root causes, importance of relationships), theoretical frameworks (e.g., appreciative inquiry), participative action research (PAR), needs and resources assessment

Lecture 2: Participative technology development (PTD): Participatory design and human-centered design; finding opportunities; planning; discovering client/community needs; specifications; concept generation, selection, and testing

Lecture 3: PTD: Architecture and industrial design; design for environment; design for manufacturing; prototypes; robustness; economics; project management; participatory social business


Week 12, March 31–April 4: Humanitarian Technology and Humanitarian STEM Education

Homework 6 due March 31, 3pm

Lecture 1: Humanitarian technologies: The technology maturity spectrum, design for social-justice, design for the developing world, extreme design constraints and unusual design trade-offs, appropriate technology (personal and community, role of modularity), design for scale, humanitarian systems engineering (wide-area problems and fighting structural injustices)

Lecture 2: Sources for humanitarian engineering and humanitarian technologies

Lecture 3: (and also see part II of this lecture here) Humanitarian STEM Education: Principles for global STEM education, participatory STEM education development, H-STEM educational technologies, STEM experiments for teaching/studying/promoting social justice, K-PhD synergies and the STEM pipeline.   

Week 13, April 7-11: Assessment of Technology and STEM Education and Humanitarian Engineering Projects

Homework #7 assigned April 7 (due April 14, 3pm), see videos below for Lecture 1 and Lecture 3 to get part of the assignment; then, also do HW-4.1, 4.3, 4.5, 4.7, 4.12, 4.17, 4.22, 4.25.

Lecture 1: Humanitarian STEM Education: Principles for global STEM education, participatory STEM education development, H-STEM educational technologies, STEM experiments for teaching/studying/promoting social justice, K-PhD synergies and the STEM pipeline.

Lecture 2: (for recorded lecture, see "Lecture 1" above and "Lecture 3" below) Humanitarian STEM Education: Principles for global STEM education, participatory STEM education development, H-STEM educational technologies, STEM experiments for teaching/studying/promoting social justice, K-PhD synergies and the STEM pipeline.

Lecture 3: Humanitarian STEM Education and PTD solution quality assessment (slides to be posted), Humanitarian engineering projects (slides/lecture to be posted)


Week 14: April 14-18: Humanitarian Engineering in the Workplace

Homework #7 assigned April 7 (due April 16, 3pm)

Lecture 1: Technology transfer, Bhopal case study, analysis from humanitarian engineering perspective, technology supply chains, ethical analysis

Lecture 2: Engineering safe and fair manufacturing sites to avoid poor conditions of "sweatshops" that are unsafe, not healthy, and can be economically and/or environmentally explotive

Lecture 3: Engineering for weapons development, peace-keeping and humanitarian intervection, career choice, analysis of case studies


Week 15: April 21:  Last Class

Book report due at 3 pm April 21.

Lecture 1: Debate/discussion day, summary of key ideas from the course


Week 15-16: April 23-29 Finals

Final Exam: Friday April 25, 4:00-5:45pm: Brief oral statement of final project problem and solution, and defense of approach. Outside expert evaluator Eric Reynolds from MIT D-Lab will be present to ask questions. For recordings, click herehere, and here.


Final Project due April 29 at 5 pm.

Montaña de Luz HIV/AIDS Orphanage, Honduras, OSU ECOS student irrigation project, Trips to MDL since 2005, Led by John Merrill