American Univesity of Beirut

 Winter School on Humanitarian Engineering at AUB January 8-26, 2018

​​​​​​​Organizing Committee:
Zaher Dawy, Imad Elhajj, 
Aline Germani, Hala Ghattas, 
Youseph Yazdi (JHU),
Muhammad Zaman (BU)

 Humanitarian Engineering: Designing Solutions for Health Challenges in Crises

​​​The Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture and the Faculty of Health Sciences at AUB, the Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design at Johns Hopkins University, and the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and International Health at Boston University offered the first-ever joint US-Middle East, interdisciplinary design course on health needs in humanitarian settings. The course ran from January 8 till January 26, 2018.

Participants of this winter school included public health students and practitioners, engineers and computer scientists, industrial design and human factors engineers, materials scientists, and highly creative and inventive people from all backgrounds.

In the first part of the course, participants from AUB, Boston University and Johns Hopkins University (JHU) had access to interactive lectures given by experts in the field, in which they were able to have discussions and ask questions around key topics. Participants at AUB had the opportunity to visit refugee camps and facilities in Lebanon and speak directly with care workers and residents to better understand the current context. They shared their observations from the field with those based at JHU in Baltimore.

The second and third part of the course consisted of intense teamwork around needs assessment, problem identification, ideation, design, and solution prototyping, with participants from the three campuses working together using a first-time Virtual Design Team Room. Teams used other online tools to share ideas through documents, whiteboards, and video conference calls. Teams were mentored by engineering and public health faculty members, and were able to share preliminary project ideas with the larger group before developing and refining their projects further in the last week.


The specific objectives of the winter school were as follows:

  •  Apply participatory needs assessment tools in humanitarian settings.Identify public health problems in humanitarian settings.
  • Apply formal design processes from different disciplines for the design of relevant and feasible solutions and interventions given a set of constraints.
  • Apply relevant appropriate technologies to prototype the designs.
  • Use effective communication tools to promote the solution to a diverse audience.
  • Work effectively in a team with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.​

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