Project Info

Extending Humanitarian Engineering and Science (HES) graduate student research into undergraduate student learning

Juan Lucena
Junko Munakata Marr

Project Goals and Description:

The goal of this research is for two MURF-funded students to research and map curricular spaces at Mines where graduate student research in humanitarian engineering and science (HES) can be extended and applied to create opportunities for undergraduates to learn about, design with, and serve marginalized communities that historically have not been served by science and engineering. Currently, the HES program is encouraging master’s students to map possible extensions of their research into undergraduate design courses (and other curricular spaces) and scope future humanitarian design projects that undergraduate engineering students can further develop. We see that graduate theses have a potential to inspire undergraduate design and service learning projects, partnerships between universities in the Global North and Global South, and future graduate-level research. We want to involve MURF researchers in helping us achieve these goals while developing their research skills and attitudes. For example, there is HES graduate research investigating water availability, treatment and use among homeless populations in urban areas. In this case, the selected MURF researchers will work with faculty advisor and HES graduate students to research water-related courses (e.g., Onsite Water Reclamation course), design spaces (e.g., Engineering for Community Development Capstone Design Studio), and student organizations (e.g., Mines Without Borders) and map opportunities to integrate this HES research into these spaces through appropriate pedagogical strategies identified by the research team. It is expected that, under the supervision of the research team, the MURF researchers will research and develop classroom activities like rewriting problems or creating short case studies that integrate course content within the context of how homeless populations use and treat water (for full descriptions of these activities, please see Leydens and Lucena 2017 book Engineering Justice). For design spaces and student organizations, the MURF researchers could map local organizations working with homeless and see how these organizations could become “clients” for design and service projects carried out by Mines undergraduates in Capstone design and/or student organization projects.
Both faculty mentors have great commitment and experience in collaborative interdisciplinary work with graduate and undergraduate students, including many collaborations between the mentors such as team-teaching together, co-authoring conference and journal papers, securing research funding together, etc.. Mentors and graduate students will regularly collaborate with MURF students as described below in the mentoring plan.

More Information:

Grand Challenge: Provide access to clean water.
Lucena, Juan et. Al. 2022. Bringing it down from the ivory tower: Translating Engineering-for-Community-Development (ECD) graduate student research into community engagement and undergraduate student learning. Proceedings of the 2022 ASEE Annual Conference and Exhibition, Minneapolis, June. Pfluger, R.L. Siegrist, G. Vanzin, J. Munakata-Marr, “Learning benefits of integrating socio-economic and cultural considerations into an onsite water reclamation course project”, Proceedings, American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition (2018). link Leydens, Jon and Juan Lucena. 2017. Engineering Justice: Transforming Engineering Education and Practice. Hoboken, NJ: IEEE-Wiley. Lucena, Juan, Jen Schneider and Jon Leydens. 2010. Engineering and Sustainable Community Development. San Rafael, CA: Morgan & Claypool.

Primary Contacts:

Juan Lucena,|Junko Munakata,

Student Preparation


To show interest in topics related to humanitarian engineering and science To have taken a class or participated in a design space (e.g., Cornerstone, MWB) where contextualized problem solving and design and/or service learning have been used as active learning pedagogies. To know the basics of how to research, read, and analyze STEM education literature. To be organized and willing to work with a team of graduate students and faculty advisor in an effective and timely manner, including scheduling meetings, following directions from different mentors, taking initiative to provide his/her own ideas for extension possibilities.


3-5 hours per week


Literature research and review skills, especially in interdisciplinary areas that integrate social sciences, education, and STEM. Research and mapping of a variety of curricular spaces including modules, units, courses, projects, among others. Organize research meetings, present ideas and preliminary findings, receive research feedback and constructive critique, and incorporate these in future activities. Research translation skills to take academic forms of research and translate them into forms and formats that are useful and relevant to non-research audiences. Planning and developing manuscripts for conference presentation as co-author of a research team.


After an introductory group meeting with HES graduate students and the MURF students to explain in detail the different HES research projects, the students will meet with the faculty mentors during the first and third weeks of the month and have a group meeting with HES graduate students during the second and fourth weeks of the month. This format will provide proper mentoring and feedback to the students during each week of the program. Meeting topics will include:
  • Literature research, review and synthesis
  • Stakeholder and curricular space mapping
  • Understanding graduate-level thesis research
  • Principles and examples of research translation
  • Conference paper preparation, writing and presentation
  • Researching, identifying and applying to graduate school

Preferred Student Status

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