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

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 you will consider the role and requirements of the engineering profession in a humanitarian context.  The application of engineering in communities with challenges such as natural disaster preparedness and recovery as well as long term development will be explored. Case histories of international aid projects will be examined to determine how practices and approaches have shifted over time. The impacts of engineering intervention in different cultures will also be reviewed.  The course is relevant to engineers wanting to practice in disaster response, long term development, or to any engineer wanting to understand the global relevance of their profession.

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 should be able to:

  1. Communicate an engineering perspective on human rights in disadvantaged societies
  2. Describe the role of engineers and engineering in developing countries, in particular the application of appropriate technology
  3. Describe the evolution of engineering in humanitarian contexts based on case histories of international aid projects and their impacts
  4. Identify needs of communities with potential for engineering solutions
  5. Develop options and recommendations for responding to a humanitarian need

Overview of Learning Activities

The course activities are structured around on-line resources, lectures, tutorials, case studies, workshop discussions, and presentations.

Overview of Learning Resources

Course-related resources will be provided on Canvas, which is accessed through myRMIT. This will include lecture material, case studies, supplementary course notes and references.

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. Implicit in assessment items will be contextual analysis, engineering needs analysis and response to selected case studies.


Assessment Task 1 - Individual Report
Weighting: 25%
CLOs: 1, 2, & 3

Assessment Task 2 - Individual Presentation 
Weighting: 20%
CLOs: 1 & 3

Assessment Task 3 - Group Report
Weighting: 35%
CLOs: 4 & 5

Assessment Task 4 - Individual Reflection 
Weighting: 20%
CLOs: 2, 4, & 5