Ashley Spurgeon

Humanitarian Engineering program celebrates two decades of transformative impact

Since 2003, more than 150 Mines students have graduated with a Humanitarian Engineering minor and 20 students have received a master's degree or certificate
Mines students listen to community members in Guatemala

Humanitarian Engineering students listen to community members during a problem-identification focus group in Guatemala, learning how to engage with local communities and take a socio-technical approach to engineering challenges. (Photo courtesy of Mines Humanitarian Engineering)

In the past two decades, Mines’ Humanitarian Engineering (HE) program has taught scientists and engineers how to best partner with communities around the world and take a sociotechnical approach to making a difference in the world. Through a variety of education, research, outreach and engagement programs, the program has encouraged and developed leadership in sustainability and social responsibility that has allowed Mines graduates to remain at the forefront of innovation and progress.

This year, the Humanitarian Engineering program celebrates its 20th anniversary and is reflecting on how the program has evolved and grown since its inception in 2003, the more than 150 students who have graduated with a Humanitarian Engineering minor, the 20 students who have received a master’s degree or graduate certificate since 2020 and the many research projects that have furthered Mines’ reputation in the U.S. and around the world.

“HE is an amazing program — truly a signature student experience at Mines,” said Kevin Moore, executive director of the Humanitarian Engineering program. “It provides distinctive programming that contributes to skill-building and lifelong learning, attracts highly qualified students from diverse backgrounds, responds to societal challenges and produces differentiated and highly desired STEM-educated leaders.”

We asked Mines alumni for their favorite memories from the Humanitarian Engineering program. Here’s a selection of what they shared.

“I am grateful to the Mines HE program for facilitating my appreciation and understanding for different engineering cultures, which has helped me work the most collaboratively with my colleagues and clients across the world.” -Heidi Bauer ’04, MS ’06

“The HE program influenced how I approach problems as an engineer. It taught me to look beyond the question and consider the full problem and those it ultimately affects.” -Julia Brown ’21

“The HE program taught me that good intentions with an engineering degree are not enough—community engagement and multi-stakeholder dialogue are needed, too.” -Nicole Hanson ’14

“HE continues to influence how I approach my job (and which jobs I look for) and encourages me to always consider the people my job affects—to look at the bigger picture. It gave me a broad mindset for approaching projects, encourages me to always keep the user in mind and challenges me to always consider the stakeholders involved at all phases of a project.” -Franco Pilone ’20

“It was exciting to learn concepts, theories and methods from the social sciences that I have never explored before, which are essential for community development. I got better at asking questions, choosing methods and interacting with various stakeholders so that the project aims correspond with the community’s interests.” -Sofía Schlezak ’23

Learn more about the Humanitarian Engineering program at

Ashley Spurgeon

Ashley Spurgeon

Editor, Mines Magazine
About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public R1 research university focused on applied science and engineering, producing the talent, knowledge and innovations to serve industry and benefit society – all to create a more prosperous future.