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Humanitarian Engineering & Social Entrepreneurship

What is the ambitious goal of this project?

Kenyan woman using a cooking pot over n open wood burning fire
Women cooking in their kitchens are exposed to harmful smoke every day

This collaborative identifies social problems created by such factors as lack of clean water, lack of clean air, food insecurities, etc., and employs a human-centered design process to address such problems. Our pilot project will address health issues associated with open fires used for indoor cooking in Kenya and innovate solutions that are evidence-based, customer-driven, practical, cost-effective, and financially viable.

Our larger goal is to use the power of Vertically Integrated Projects and multidisciplinary and cross-sector collaboratives to identify, innovate and design solutions for many social problems.  These problems will be guided by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and include for example:

  • SDG 3.9: reduce deaths and illnesses associated with air pollution
  • SDG 6.1: universal and equitable access to clean affordable water
  • SDG 7.2: upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries
  • SDG 12.5: reduce waste generation through product material innovation, recycling, and reuse.

Experience Gained

Join this team to examine society’s grand challenges and implement solutions to improve the human condition.
Students who complete one or more semesters of this project may expect to gain knowledge and experience in some of the following, with a greater breadth of learning corresponding to the length of time on the project.  Skills acquired may include:

  • Understand interdisciplinary and internationally-based design thinking methodology
  • Evaluate design-construct-maintain alternatives with an emphasis on client/cultural priorities
  • Develop sustainable training modules for the implementation of design modification models
  • Conduct market-based analysis that is cognizant of socio-economic and environmental issues
  • Understand and be able to leverage applied ethnographic methods to ensure that market-based solutions are culturally appropriate
  • Describe how the poverty trap operates and be able to create products/services that successfully tackle multiple parts of this cycle
  • Understand and engage in teamwork using the model of “Collaborative Way”
  • Understand the connections between indoor air pollution and human health

Methodologies and/or Technologies used to achieve project goals:

Woman carrying wood over her head
Almost all people cook with wood in Kenya. Burning this wood creates unhealthy indoor air.
  • 3D design
  • case studies
  • design thinking
  • engineering lab
  • fieldwork
  • fundraising and/or grant writing
  • human interface design
  • laboratory testing
  • market research
  • participant/study observations
  • qualitative research methods
  • quantitative research methods
  • structured interviewing
  • systems engineering

Majors and Interests Needed

We are looking for a team of students from a variety of majors and minors who come to this project for different reasons. We welcome inquiries from any students interested in the project, even if you are unsure what you have to offer. The project may be particularly complementary to majors or minors or proficiencies in:

  • Business
  • Civil Engineering
  • Communication
  • Construction Management
  • Economics
  • Environmental Studies Program
  • Finance
  • Global Studies
  • Information Technology & Supply Chain Management
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Materials Science & Engineering
  • Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Sciences

VIP Coach Information

Dr. Uwe Reischl, PhD, MD, Professor in the Department of Public Health and Population Science. Dr. Reischl is a public health physician with specialization in occupational medicine and Public Health.

Dr. Mark Lung, PhD is the Population Health Fellow for the Boise State University Blue Sky Institute. He is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of ECO2LIBRIUM (ECO2), a company that uses business as a tool to tackle sustainable development in Kenya.

Course Information

Full semester course.
Choose to enroll in 1 or 2 credits in VIP 200-024, VIP 400-024, or VIP 500 -024.
Team meetings TBD by participants.

Want to join the team?

For more information about this project and to request a permission number to register contact Dr. Mark Lung at (208) 921-0243 OR OR complete this interest form and someone will contact you.  Check out this document for tips on contact a professor.

To register:  search by Subject: Vertically Integrated Projects, select section 024 of VIP 200, 400, or 500. Use permission number, here are instructions