Director, Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program
Assistant Professor, Engineering Design
The Pennsylvania State University
213U Hammond Bldg
University Park, PA 16802
Khanjan Mehta is the Founding Director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program, Assistant Professor of Engineering Design, and Affiliate Professor of International Affairs at Penn State. HESE is an integrated learning, research, and entrepreneurship program that brings together students and faculty across campus in the rigorous research, design, field-testing, and launch of technology-based enterprises in low- and middle-income countries. Through a series of five courses, HESE teams systematically advance ventures over multiple years with aspirations for large-scale commercialization and dissemination. Alongside the social enterprises, students work on original publishable research that strengthen ventures by ensuring they use an evidence-based and data-driven approach. The overarching goal is to deliver sustainable impact while preparing students for careers in social innovation and global sustainable development. Mehta has led technology-based social ventures in Kenya, Tanzania, India, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and other countries. These ventures range from telemedicine systems and ruggedized biomedical devices to low-cost greenhouses, solar food dryers, cell phone-based social networking systems, and knowledge sharing platforms for self-employed women.
Mehta’s research interests encompass affordable design; systems thinking; social entrepreneurship pedagogy; agricultural technologies and food value chains (FVCs); global health and telemedicine systems; cellphones, social networks and trust; indigenous knowledge systems; development ethics and grassroots diplomacy; women in engineering and entrepreneurship; and informal lending systems for micro-enterprises. The objective of these research endeavors is to democratize knowledge and mainstream HESE as a valid and rigorous area of learning, research, and engagement. He has published three books and over 120 journal articles and refereed conference proceedings with ~50 more in the pipeline. Mehta serves as an Associate Editor for the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine and Contributing Editor for the Engineering 4 Change portal. His latest book, Solving Problems that Matter (and Getting Paid for It, takes a comprehensive loop at STEM careers in social innovation and global sustainable development. Mehta publishes a daily cartoon series called Frame Changers that captures learning moments in HESE and sustainable development.
Mehta has served on several university-wide and international committees and taskforces. He has delivered invited talks and keynote speeches on technology innovation, social entrepreneurship, and global sustainability at several universities and international conferences. The HESE program was the recipient of the 2013 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Award (Northeast Region) from APLU, 2011 Outstanding Specialty Entrepreneurship Program Award from the US Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) and was named by Popular Mechanics as one of thirty “Awesome College Labs” across America. While these are good accolades, Mehta’s primary focus is on the HESE ventures that his students are striving to build up to multi-million smile enterprises.