Engineering for Human Rights

What do an engineer and a humanitarian have in common?

This question is at the core of the University of Connecticut’s Engineering for Human Rights Initiative.

Engineering is often thought of exclusively as a technological endeavor, but it has many societal implications and applications. Engineering can help bring clean water to people in the remotest corners of the world or protect democratic elections and freedom of speech by securing online platforms, just to name a few examples.

UConn’s Engineering for Human Rights Initiative aims to bridge the gap between STEM students and the good their work can do for people. The program is a collaboration between several organizations within UConn, including the Human Rights Institute and the School of Engineering.

The aim of the initiative is to allow future engineers to think about the ethical implications of their work. “We teach students to manage risk, enhance access to technology, and develop remedies for potential harms generated by their work as engineers,” says Shareen Hertel, associate professor of political science and human rights. Hertel, an expert on labor rights in global supply chains, has helped spearhead the initiative, which draws social scientists like herself into collaborative teaching and research with engineers.

Global issues like climate change have a real human cost, especially in places like poorer island nations that are susceptible to increasingly violent extreme weather events and often lack the resources to rebuild after them. Additionally, changing seasons are making fresh food scarcer for those who rely on farming for their food and/or livelihood.

Read More @ UConn Today

Engineering for Human Rights

What do an engineer and a humanitarian have in common?

This question is at the core of the University of Connecticut’s Engineering for Human Rights Initiative.

Engineering is often thought of exclusively as a technological endeavor, but it has many societal implications and applications. Engineering can help bring clean water to people in the remotest corners of the world or protect democratic elections and freedom of speech by securing online platforms, just to name a few examples.

UConn’s Engineering for Human Rights Initiative aims to bridge the gap between STEM students and the good their work can do for people. The program is a collaboration between several organizations within UConn, including the Human Rights Institute and the School of Engineering.

The aim of the initiative is to allow future engineers to think about the ethical implications of their work. “We teach students to manage risk, enhance access to technology, and develop remedies for potential harms generated by their work as engineers,” says Shareen Hertel, associate professor of political science and human rights. Hertel, an expert on labor rights in global supply chains, has helped spearhead the initiative, which draws social scientists like herself into collaborative teaching and research with engineers.

Global issues like climate change have a real human cost, especially in places like poorer island nations that are susceptible to increasingly violent extreme weather events and often lack the resources to rebuild after them. Additionally, changing seasons are making fresh food scarcer for those who rely on farming for their food and/or livelihood.

Read More @ UConn Today

Class: Human Rights and the Supply Chain

The work of the HRI’s own Shareen Hertel has been highlighted by UConn Today! Together with Professor Allison MacKay from Ohio State University, they have developed an interdisciplinary class, Assessment for Human Rights & Sustainability. In that class, students have investigated how companies assess their global supply chain to ensure that they promote positive social and economic development, while minimizing environmental impact.

Read the story and accompanying Podcast here!

 

 

All-Women Engineering Team Fights Cerebral Palsy

A team of four Biomedical Engineering students from UConn are breaking new ground in the fight against Spastic Cerebral Palsy. They’re all women, which is unusual, but that’s not what makes them ground-breaking – rather, it’s how they’re trying to fight the disease that sets them apart. They’re building a new approach from the ground-up.

“We’re creating a cerebral palsy hand rehabilitation device,” said UConn Senior Katie Bradley, “we have four motors that are going to be on our device. Each one of them is targeting the four muscles that we’re looking at.”

“We want to improve their quality of life, alleviate their pain,” said Senior Brittany Morgan.

Read more @ Fox61

Improving the Water Supply in a Drought-Stricken Village

Three UConn engineering students are working in partnership with a village in Ethiopia to help improve the water supply.

During winter break, the three students, who are all members of the UConn chapter of Engineers Without Borders, traveled to the village to begin surveying for a project to improve the community’s water infrastructure.

The village, called the Woreta Zuria Administrative Kebele, has an extensive dry season, lasting nine months of the year. The residents depend on agricultural production for their livelihood, and this year is particularly difficult for them, because of the drought that Ethiopia is experiencing.

“The community we’re working in is entirely relying on agriculture for sustenance,” says Kristin Burnham ’19 (ENG, CLAS), a double major in environmental engineering and molecular and cell biology.

Read more @ UConn Today

Using Vibrational Therapy to Change the 
Outlook for Cerebral Palsy

In the United States, there are nearly 800,000 children and adults that exhibit one or more symptoms of Cerebral Palsy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10,000 new-born babies will develop Cerebral Palsy every year. One of the major symptoms for Cerebral Palsy patients is loss of motor function, taking away the ability to walk with ease, and creating difficulty in feeding. There have been several advancements in devices that aid individuals with Cerebral Palsy, but not enough devices that rehabilitate the patient. Four biomedical engineering students are looking to tackle that issue with their innovative Senior Design project.

Katherine Bradley, Morgan DaSilva, Brianna Perry, and Brittany Morgan, the four students involved in the project, are working on a brace, which would go on the hand and arm of a Cerebral Palsy patient, and would use vibration therapy to treat and strengthen the muscles in those parts of the body. The project is being sponsored by the Biomedical Engineering department, and the group is being advised by Professor Krystyna Gielo-Perczak.

Read more @ Engineering News

Securing Water Resources in Ethiopia

A $4.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation will allow University of Connecticut researchers to collaborate with colleagues around the world in order to help local governments and communities in Ethiopia’s Blue Nile river basin better manage their agricultural and water resources.

The funds, released today, come from NSF’s Partnerships in International Research and Education or PIRE program.

“This grant will position the University of Connecticut as a global leader in the multidisciplinary field of water and food security,” says Provost Mun Choi. “We particularly value the quality of scientific and cultural exchanges that are made possible through the PIRE program for students, faculty, and researchers from UConn, Ethiopia, and other international universities.”

Read More @ UConn Today

Up Close — Impulsive Ingenuity: Arash Zaghi

By Mary Lord

Just 34, Arash Zaghi can point to a string of achievements. After graduating at the top of Iran’s prestigious Sharif University of Technology, he worked as a project engineer in Tehran while earning a master’s in earthquake engineering. Arriving in the United States, he whipped through a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno in just three years. There, he developed a seismic-design method for a novel connection detail that was incorporated in the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Joining the University of Connecticut in 2011, Zaghi soon won back-to-back awards for teaching excellence. He also established a research lab to study the design of multihazard-resilient infrastructure, launched a start-up, and filed for a patent for an ingenious bridge-column system. His latest endeavor, however, veers sharply away from roads and girders. It’s based on a discovery about himself.

Three years ago, Zaghi was diagnosed with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. Now, backed by a two-year, $150,000 Research in Engineering Education grant from the National Science Foundation, he is studying the creative thinking and risk-taking potential of engineering students with and without ADHD and identifying obstacles to success. “This project has the potential to improve education for all students and transform the way we teach engineering,” says Zaghi. He argues that risk-taking, impulsivity, procrastination, and focus problems – common traits in the 4 to 7 percent of the population who have ADHD – often coexist with significant talents. Properly steered, these talents can spark the “revolutionary change” needed to solve such “broad, complex problems” as cybersecurity or global climate change, he says.

Read More @ American Society for Engineering Education: PRISM

UConn Professor Works to Engineer ADHD Success

Engineering is a growth industry with well-paying jobs. But many college students with ADHD soon drop out of engineering programs. Or they don’t apply to begin with, says Arash Zaghi, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Connecticut.

Zaghi believes that students with ADHD can be great engineers—with the proper training. And he’s launching a study in the hopes of proving it.

People with ADHD can be some of the most creative engineering students, according to Zaghi. But many programs don’t appreciate the different ways people with ADHD learn. Nor do they reward the innovative thinking of these students.

Most programs focus on using standard methods for solving problems, he explains. For a student with ADHD, that can be very frustrating.

Read more @ Understood

The Social Impact of Engineering

By William Weir, School of Engineering

Engineers play a major role in developing cell phones, but what responsibility do they have to consider the origin of the materials the phone is made of? Conversely, can they take credit for how the cell phone can protect African farmers from being swindled?

To address issues such as these, the School of Engineering and the Human Rights Institute have created a track of courses within UConn’s human rights minor that explores the social aspects of engineering, including energy, infrastructure, and water resources management.

“We looked to develop courses that contextualize human rights concepts and theories in an engineering practice,” says Shareen Hertel, associate professor of political science and human rights. “We on the human rights side found it really advantageous to reach out to the students who were going to do work with serious human rights implications but hadn’t thought about it that way before.”

Read More @ UConn TodayOriginal Article