• Offered by School of Engineering
  • ANU College ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Course subject Engineering
  • Areas of interest Interdisciplinary Studies - Sustainability, Development Studies, Engineering, Sustainable Development , Sustainable Engineering
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Jeremy Smith
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Summer Session 2021
    Winter Session 2021
    See Future Offerings

Course has been adjusted for remote participation in 2021. Some on-campus activities are available. Attendance at these where possible is encouraged.

Effective engineering design and technology plays a significant role for humanitarian contexts. These contexts can range in time - from disaster preparedness and response, to long-term sustainable community development - and in geographic scale - from urban to rural and remote, within our own communities and internationally. Engineering for a Humanitarian Context will provide students with perspectives and tools to sensitively and appropriately apply their engineering practice to humanitarian contexts and development.

The course will expand students’ existing engineering knowledge to work with vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalised individuals and communities in challenging and uncertain environments, informing and improving their overall engineering practice. Students will explore the history of community development in Australia and the region, including contemporary approaches and models used. Appropriate and sustainable design and technology will be explored, including critical reflection of the benefits and limitations of engineering practice. 

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Discuss significant aspects of Australia’s international and domestic aid and development sector, including its history, geopolitical context and contemporary approaches
  2. Apply appropriate technology and system design principles to humanitarian contexts incorporating social, economic and environmental factors
  3. Identify and evaluate appropriate models of development and engineering and design processes for a range of humanitarian contexts to promote social justice and address the root cause of disadvantage
  4. Demonstrate necessary personal skills to work in a humanitarian environment, including the ability to utilise cross-cultural awareness and critical self-reflection
  5. Apply existing engineering discipline knowledge to cross-disciplinary humanitarian contexts and describe how humanitarian principles and skills can inform and enhance discipline practice

Other Information

A Canberra-based version will be delivered at least once every two years, which does not require acceptance onto an external program.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Appropriate Technology Build (15) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  2. Humanitarian Engineering Reflection (5) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  3. Australian Development Context (15) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  4. Design Profile (15) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  5. Development Perspectives (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  6. Humanitarian Engineering Portfolio (30) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Approximately 130 hours. This includes taking part in the 7-14 day immersive experiences, 1 1/2 days of workshops before the immersion, a day workshop after the immersion and time for assessment preparation and presentation. Except for a Canberra-based mode, students will need to be accepted onto an immersive experience with an external partner which may have separate costs associated in addition to regular course fees.

Inherent Requirements

Inherent Requirements for this course are currently not available.

Requisite and Incompatibility

Permission to enrol in the course must be provided by the course convenor. To be eligible you must: - be participating in an EWB Humanitarian Design Summit or similar short-term international experience with a focus on development - have completed a minimum of two-years (96 credit units) of engineering studies, or equivalent such as science, development studies or design, with approval of the course convenor - have completed a design focused course such as ENGN1211 Discovering Engineering

You will need to contact the School of Engineering to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

The Humanitarian Engineer - Documentary by Sheena Ong (http://the-humanitarian-engineer.com/)

ACOSS Policy Agenda (http://www.acoss.org.au/policy/)

DFAT Where we give Aid (http://dfat.gov.au/aid/where-we-give-aid/Pages/where-we-give-aid.aspx)

Field Guide to Human-Centered Design

Humanitarian Engineering - Creating Technologies That Help People - K Passino


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $4410
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $5880
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Summer Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
1332 01 Jan 2021 22 Jan 2021 22 Jan 2021 31 Mar 2021 In Person N/A

Winter Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4359 01 Jul 2021 23 Jul 2021 23 Jul 2021 30 Sep 2021 In Person N/A

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