To Be of Use
Humanitarian Engineering at Oregon State University
ME-EM Graduate Seminar Speaker Series
Dr. Kendra Sharp
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Richard and Gretchen Evans Professor in Humanitarian Engineering
Oregon State University
Abstract: The lack of affordable basic necessities—such as energy and clean water—and the severe consequences realized by communities vulnerable to natural and anthropogenic stressors reduce the quality of life for billions of people and cause social and political instability as well as human misery. We define Humanitarian Engineering, Science and Technology (HEST) broadly as the application of technically-based solutions to improve the human condition and address global humanitarian challenges (that include but are not limited to disaster response). The complex nature of HEST problems, including social and cultural factors, demands a strong interdisciplinary approach and awareness of the new model of global development that increasingly relies upon partnerships, innovation, entrepreneurship, and results. OSU’s humanitarian engineering program was founded in 2014 to offer interdisciplinary opportunities for our students to learn about challenges in global development, improve their abilities to communicate and work across cultural differences, contribute to solving realworld problems in collaboration with community partners, and strengthen OSU’s global engagement and impact.
In this seminar, Dr. Sharp will give an overview of OSU’s offerings: an undergraduate humanitarian engineering minor; a suite of courses in Humanitarian Engineering, Science and Technology (HEST); undergraduate and graduate research; graduate travel fellowships; a field course entitled Household Energy in Guatemala; and humanitarian engineering-related capstone design projects with international partners. She will discuss some of the challenges and opportunities encountered in founding and leading the program, including observations on the demographics of participating students, thoughts on her experience working across different colleges at a large public university, and reflections on working with various types of external partners.
Dr. Sharp will also reflect on non-linear academic career paths, non-traditional career paths for Ph.D. graduates, the role of creativity and risk-taking in her work, and some of the best (and the worst) parts about being an engineering professor.
Bio: Dr. Kendra Sharp is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Richard and Gretchen Evans Professor in Humanitarian Engineering in the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. She founded and directs OSU’s Humanitarian Engineering Program. She has been appointed as the Senior Advisor to the Provost for International Affairs at OSU, starting in January 2019. Her technical expertise includes experimental fluid mechanics/microfluidics, sustainable energy for the developing world, and broadly-accessible design education. She has extensive international research and teaching experience including appointments at the Technical University of Delft, and the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and as part of the organizing and instructional teams at multi-week design summits in India, Pakistan and Thailand. She has led a number of efforts to advance equity, diversity and inclusion in the College of Engineering and in her profession. She leads OSU’s participation in a USAID-funded Partner Center of Advanced Studies in Energy with Arizona State University and two universities in Pakistan. She received OSU’s International Service Award in 2016 and the American Society of Mechanical Engineering’s (ASME’s) Edwin F. Church Medal in 2018. She received her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an M.Phil. in Engineering from the University of Cambridge (UK), an M.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California-Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from the University of Illinois. In 2001, she served as an AAAS/American Institute of Physics Congressional Science Fellow in the U.S. Senate, where she advised on science and technology policy. From 2002-–2009, she was a faculty member in mechanical engineering at The Pennsylvania State University.
Invited by: William Predebon
Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Electrical Energy Resources Center (EERC), 103
1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931