Course Title: Humanitarian Engineering

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Humanitarian Engineering

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


172H School of Engineering


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2021,
Sem 2 2023

Course Coordinator: Nick Brown

Course Coordinator Phone: +613 9925 3024

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 10.10.29

Course Coordinator Availability: by appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

In this course, through instruction, experimentation and hands on activities you will explore the role, requirements and application of the engineering profession in disaster preparedness, disaster response and long-term development contexts. You will learn best practices and approaches to engineering in these humanitarian contexts, whilst also building critical human centred and participatory design skills that are applicable in all disciplines of engineering and beyond. Humanitarian engineering skills will be beneficial for those interested in building resilience to global stresses such as climate change, pandemics, natural disasters, urban and rural development. This course is for those wanting to expand their engineering skills and be prepared to tackle the pressing and complex global challenges of the 21st century.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to development of the following program learning outcomes of the Master of Engineering:

1. Needs, Context and Systems

  • Describe, investigate and analyse complex engineering systems and associated issues (using systems thinking and modelling techniques).
  • Exposit legal, social, economic, ethical and environmental interests, values, requirements and expectations of key stakeholders.
  • Identify and assess risks (including OH&S) as well as the economic, social and environmental impacts of engineering activities.

2. Problem Solving and Design

  • Develop creative and innovative solutions to engineering problems.
  • Anticipate the consequences of intended action or inaction and understand how the consequences are managed collectively by your organisation, project or team.
  • Develop and operate within a hazard and risk framework appropriate to engineering activities.

3. Professional Practice

  • Understand the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds of contemporary engineering practice in the specific discipline.


Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Identify humanitarian needs with potential for engineering solutions
  2. Develop engineering options and recommendations for responding to humanitarian needs
  3. Apply a rights-based approach to engineering in disadvantaged and vulnerable societies
  4. Describe the evolution of engineering in disaster response and long-term development and reflect on its impact on engineering practice today
  5. Evaluate technologies and their appropriateness to humanitarian contexts

Overview of Learning Activities

You will be actively engaged in a range of learning activities such as lectorials, tutorials, practicals, laboratories, seminars, project work, class discussion, individual and group activities. Delivery may be face to face, online or a mix of both.

You are encouraged to be proactive and self-directed in your learning, asking questions of your lecturer and/or peers and seeking out information as required, especially from the numerous sources available through the RMIT library, and through links and material specific to this course that is available through myRMIT Studies Course.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through myRMIT Studies Course.

There are services available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal.

Overview of Assessment

This course has no hurdle requirements.

The purpose of assessment is to determine whether you have developed the capabilities stated in the Course Learning Outcomes and selected Program Learning Outcomes. The assessment focuses on your ability to consider and present options and recommendations for solving problems related to engineering principles and practice in emergency, humanitarian and development contexts.

Assessment Task 1 - Individual Application
Weighting: 20%
CLOs:  1, 4, 5

Assessment Task 2 – Group Experimental Lab Report 
Weighting: 35%
CLOs: 2, 5

Assessment Task 3 – Funding Proposal
Weighting: 15%
CLOs: 1, 2, 3

Assessment Task 4 - Review Panel
Weighting: 30%
CLOs: 2, 3, 4