Special Session on Development Engineering

UNESCO Chair in Technologies for Development: What is Essential?

4-6 June 2014 | EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland


  • When:
  • Wednesday 4 June 2014
  • 14:30-17:00
  • Location:
  • SwissTech Convention Centre
  • Room 2C – Level Garden
  • Session Leader:
  • Dr. Temina Madon, Development Impact Lab, UC Berkeley
  • Informal Talks and Presentations:
  • Temina Madon, UC Berkeley – Introduction “Development Engineering: Designing for Impact”
  • Amos Winter, MIT – Discussion of Course: “Global Engineering”
  • Susan Amrose, UC Berkeley – Discussion of Course: “Design for Sustainable Communities”
  • Evan Thomas, Portland State – Measurement Technology “Use of Electronic Sensors to Improve the Effectiveness of Environmental Health Interventions In Developing Countries”

Development Engineering:  A Unified Approach to Tech4Dev

Science and technology have great potential to promote economic development in low-resource settings. However, technologies that perform well in pilots can fail to achieve impact in the “real world”, often because of market failures, social and behavioral barriers, and environmental constraints.

To overcome these challenges, engineers are beginning to integrate insights from economics and the social sciences along the entire arc of technological innovation — from ideation and prototype development to manufacture at scale.

To formalize this approach, an academic field of “Development Engineering” (Dev Eng) is proposed. The establishment of a new discipline could help to formalize training in the design, evaluation, and scale-up of pro-poor technologies. Downstream, it is expected to foster closer linkage between technological advances and the social or economic interventions needed to achieve lasting development impact. Recently, several universities have begun piloting degree programs and courses in Dev Eng (some using the term “global engineering”).

This session will review a sample of graduate courses and degree programs being piloted at U.S. universities, with instructors sharing their experiences and lessons learned.

We also will invite a discussion of how learning from Tech4Dev, ICT for Development, and frugal engineering (and related movements) can be leveraged to improve and accelerate innovation for the poor.