Engineering Grand Challenges

Faculty Friends:

Mirna Mattjik

Teaching Associate Professor | Engineering, Design, & Society

About Mirna.
Mirna Mattjik is a Teaching Associate Professor in the Engineering, Design, and Society Department. Mirna primarily teaches design engineering and occasionally contributes in the McBride Honors Program. Mirna’s formal education is in industrial technology, international political economy, project management and leadership. She is also currently learning about educational equity in higher education. Mirna’s goal as Teaching Faculty is to enhance students’ learning through high impact practices and to broaden participation in innovation. Mirna strives to provide equal learning opportunities for all learners and to design learning environments that garner students’ belonging at Mines. In the classroom, Mirna encourages students’ intrinsic motivation to learn through modeling authenticity in teaching and learning.

Mark Orrs

Teaching Associate Professor | Engineering, Design, & Society

About Mark.

Mark Orrs is a Teaching Associate Professor in Engineering, Design, & Society with more than a decade of experience teaching in the fields of sustainable development and engineering design. Dr. Orrs received a B.S. in Sociology from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA, a Diploma in Economics with Distinction from the London School of Economics & Political Science, and a PhD in Sustainable Development from Columbia University. Prior to joining Mines, Dr. Orrs was a Professor of Practice and founding Director of the Sustainable Development Program at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. Among the first of its kind, the program utilized experiential learning through problem-solving with real-world field partners to immerse students from Lehigh’s three undergraduate colleges – Engineering, Business, and Arts & Sciences – into the triple bottom-line discipline of sustainable development, domestically and abroad in more than a dozen countries.   

Dr. Orrs teaches design studios and other project-based courses for both the Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) Program and the Humanitarian Engineering (HE) Program, as well as Cornerstone Design. He is passionate about incorporating Life Design into curricular and co-curricular components of the Mines experience, and has interests in well-being and nature-based therapies such as shinrin yoku (“forest bathing”). He also serves as a faculty advisor for the Mines Without Borders student organization, and is facilitator of The Global Classroom for the Secretariat of Global Masters of Development Practice Programs worldwide.  

Mark lives in southeast Denver, where he serves as President of the Hampden Heights Civic Association, volunteers as Chief Sustainability Advisor to his local City Councilwoman, Kendra Black, and was appointed to the Science & Research Committee of the Denver Sustainability Advisory Council by Mayor Michael Hancock.   

Affiliate Program:

Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP)

Learning Outcomes

Students in the Engineering Grand Challenges community will…

  • Participate in community building through familiarity of the four cross-cutting themes of the grand challenges: sustainability, health, security, and joy of living 
  • Discuss interdisciplinary perspectives with problem-solving and overall critical thinking.  
  • Brainstorm, experiment and practice day-to-day solutions to mitigate a grand challenge in at least two cross-cutting themes 
  • Understand, appreciate, and critically analyze the ethics and the humanitarian areas of the EGCs or four cross-cutting themes. 
  • Practice skills they need to be successful in the realm of self-starting, and entrepreneurship.

The Engineering Grand Challenges Themed Learning Community is more than a simple group of soon to be engineers. Yes, we love to explore ways to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges, and nerd out about topics we love. However, for me it is a tight knit family, full of the most funny, kind, and talented individuals from across the world, that I have ever had the privilege to meet. As a part of this group, I have had the chance to participate in fun programs centered around the fourteen biggest current engineering challenges, while exploring and looking at those problems from others perspectives and ways of life.

Sean Holmen

EGC Resident, 2021-2022

My time in the Engineering Grand Challenges TLC has singlehandedly shaped my first semesters here at Mines. I’ve made so many friends, gained a strong handle on how to make the most of my college experience, and acquired a new understanding of the problems that we face as engineers in the modern era. I’m incredibly thankful for the connection EGC helped me form with the Mines community, and I’m proud to have taken part in such a wonderful opportunity.

Dean Plummer

EGC Resident, 2021-2022