Humanitarian Engineering Scholars

The Humanitarian Engineering Scholars (HES) is one of 17 academically-focused, co-curricular programs offered through the University Honors & Scholars program at The Ohio State University. It is comprised of first and second-year undergraduate students who engage in a living-learning community. These students typically study engineering, but other disciplines are represented. Students apply and are accepted into the program at the start of their career at OSU.

Humanitarian Engineering has been defined as “the application of engineering to improving the well-being of marginalized people and disadvantaged communities, usually in the developing world.” (Brown, 2016). At a high level, HES focuses on how to immerse and engage students in this work, and also shapes some of the students’ academic course work in the process.

In their first semester, HES students complete a course designed to familiarize them with the professors, projects, programs, courses, and student organizations dedicated to humanitarian engineering at OSU. Engineering students are also enrolled as a cohort in the first year Fundamentals of Engineering 1181 and 1182 courses. A portion of the coursework is then adapted to fit the ideals of humanitarian engineering and the course is taught by humanitarian engineering faculty at OSU. These same students live together in a Residence Hall for their first year, which currently is Drackett Tower.

An integral theme for HES is service. At the Heinzerling Foundation, a residential facility for individuals with severe and profound developmental disabilities, HES students help create adaptive technologies to support residents with varying disabilities. HES has also partnered with the Metro Middle School, a STEM-focused school, where HES students volunteer as tutors for their science lab, as well as traditional classrooms. HES also participates in several other volunteering opportunities throughout the academic year, such as Ohio State’s Community Commitment Day and the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. In the past, HES students have traveled to Panajachel, Guatemala, to work with Mayan Families, a non-profit organization that supports the indigenous Mayan population. While there, students engaged in technical projects, comparative studies, and STEM education programs.

HES 2017-2018 President Hayden Clark

I personally was a part of HES for my first two years of undergraduate engineering at OSU, and was the organizations’ President for the 2017-2018 academic year. I accredit much of my collegiate success to my involvement in HES, as it not only gave me a solid support group of like-minded peers, but it helped me discover my passion for Humanitarian Engineering, and gave me the tools to pursue my minor in Humanitarian Engineering.

To join the HES, one must indicate in the OSU application an interest in University Honors & Scholars, and submit a separate application indicating their top 3 scholars group preferences. The application is then reviewed by the appropriate Scholars advisors.

For questions about the HES, please contact the Program Advisor, Rachel Tuttle, at


Brown, Aaron. “Humanitarian Engineering.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia

Britannica, Inc., 29 May 2016,


Written by Hayden Clark