HESE offers a series of five courses that are open to upper-division undergraduate and graduate students from all majors and colleges across Penn State. Typically, half the students are engineering students while the rest come from every other college. Over half the students are typically women. Freshmen and sophomores with prior community engagement experience can participate with approval from the program director.


ENGR 451 [3]: Social Entrepreneurship

Pre-requisites: Fifth Semester Standing

This course provides students a conceptual framework of social entrepreneurship in the global arena. It explores social challenges and solutions with a systems thinking approach with the help of case studies of successful and failed social ventures from diverse world regions and fields like healthcare, energy, food, education, income generation, access to capital, etc. Students work in multi-disciplinary teams to develop business models and implementation strategies for real social ventures in the United States, Africa, South Asia and Central America.


EDSGN 452 [2]: Projects in Humanitarian Engineering

Concurrent: EDSGN 453

Students undertake technology-based social entrepreneurial ventures in cooperation with partnering academic and community organizations. There are several sections of this course that focus on ventures in various countries, and change from year to year. Students work in cross-functional teams on the various design, testing and commercialization / implementation aspects of their ventures. The course offers multi-disciplinary real-world integrated engineering research and design experience, from problem formulation through assessment of performance. Students are required to concurrently register for the EDSGN 453 class.


EDSGN 453 [1]: Design for Developing Communities

Concurrent: EDSGN 452

The Design for Developing Communities seminar course grounds students in EDSGN 452, BIOE 401, and other related courses in the basics of humanitarian design, user-centered design for extreme affordability, social entrepreneurship, systems thinking, travel and fieldwork, and related issues for technology-based social ventures in developing communities. One section of this class focuses on the international context and another section on the American context. An honors section of this class is also offered.


EDSGN 454 [0.5]: HESE Field Experience

Pre-requisites: EDSGN 452 + EDSGN 453

The HESE Field Experience is a hands-on integrated learning, research and entrepreneurial engagement experience for students that have been working on various HESE ventures in the Spring semester. Students travel to project site(s) for about three weeks in the Maymester to conduct field-testing of their technologies, test their preliminary business models, gather data for their research projects, etc. They work very closely with community members and various partnering agencies during that time. The partnering agencies range from community members to local schools, non-profits, community-based organizations, and governmental and United Nations agencies.


ENGR 455 [3]: HESE Reflection and Research Dissemination

Pre-requisites: EDSGN 454

This course provides students an opportunity to reflect and build upon their experiences following travel to a partnering community to advance their HESE venture. There are three intertwined tracks in this course. One track explores the ethical intricacies of conducting research and advancing entrepreneurial ventures in developing communities. The grassroots diplomacy track delves into the complicated and delicate challenges of working in developing communities in a harmonious and effective manner. Most HESE students are engaged in an IRB-approved research study related to their venture, for which they gather data during the summer field experience. The research dissemination track provides students with just-in-time information and skill-sets necessary for developing their research manuscripts.

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