Engineering & Humanity Week In The News

Green Source DFW

Harvey Lacey builds a house using Ubuntu bricks made of recycled plastic

KDAF-TV (Ch. 33-Dallas)

Green Team SMU

The Dallas Morning News

New Businesses Should Be  Ready for Plan B

Voice of America

Refugee Camp Springs Up on US University Campus

AOL News

Segway Inventor Dean Kamen Recieves Humanitarian Award

KERA-90.1 FM (NPR-Dallas)

SMU Students Live In Their Refugee Huts

WFAA-TV (ABC-Dallas)

Dallas Group Helping Children Get Clean Water

The Dallas Morning News

SMU Honors A True Visionary

Segway Inventor To Receive Humanitarian Award in Dallas

Hunt Institute to Build Third World Village on SMU Campus

As SMU Marks 100 Years, It's Aiming For The Top Tier (April 10 photo)

The Dallas Observer

At SMU’s Living Village, Harvey Lacey Demos A House Built One Plastic Bag At A Time

What Can You Do With An Old Shipping Container? Turn It Into The EandH Commissary

KXAS-TV (NBC-Dallas)

SMU Students Build 'Refugee Camp' on Campus

The New York Times

Ethical Engineering-No Oxymoron

SMU Daily Campus

Internationalizing SMU

Engineering and Humanity Week brings ideas, innovation to solve third world problems

Texas inventor turns trash into innovative solution

Audio Slideshow: Engineering and Humanity Week Brings Living Village To Life

The Living Village: A Video Tour

Sustainable Village Comes  To Life Through Engineering

Video: SMU students participate in "The Living Village"

SMU Daily Mustang

Engineering and Humanity Week at SMU: Students Take on a Third-World Experience


Inventor Dean Kamen To Receive Inaugural Hunt Institute Visionary Award  


Gensler Dallas: Curator of The Living Village

Living Village Blog

SMU Students: Tell Us Your Living Living Village Adventure On The SMU Adventures Blog


The Living Village: A Tribute to Sargent Shriver (1915-2011)

Sargent Shriver, 1961"The Peace Corps represents some, if not all, of the best virtues in this society. It stands for everything that America has ever stood for. It stands for everything we believe in and hope to achieve in the world."

                                    --Sargent Shriver

In January, 1961, President Kennedy was sworn-in, and his inaugural address reverberated throughout the country and the world when he said, “Let the word go forth that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…To those peoples in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves…”

The next day, President Kennedy called on his brother in law, Sargent Shriver, asking him to lead a task force to establish what we know today—50 years later—as the Peace Corps.  Robert Sargent Shriver Jr. became founder and first director of the Peace Corps, and later the architect of President Johnson's War on Poverty. Since 1961, more than 200,000 Peace Corps volunteers and trainees have served in 139 countries—including the 8,655 volunteers serving today.

Sargent Shriver died on January 18, 2011 at the age of 95, following a years-long decline due to Alzheirmer's.

Shriver married John F. Kennedy's sister, Eunice Kennedy, in 1953. The two started the Special Olympics, which became a worldwide movement. She died at age of 88 in 2009.

"Our dad, Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr., lovingly known as 'Sarge,' today went to heaven to join the love of his life, our mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. He was surrounded by his five children, five children in-law, and his 19 grandchildren," the family said in a statement on the day of his passing.

"He was a man of giant love, energy, enthusiasm, and commitment. He lived to make the world a more joyful, faithful, and compassionate place. He centered everything on his faith and his family. He worked on stages both large and small but in the end, he will be best known for his love of others. No one ever came into his presence without feeling his passion and his enthusiasm for them. He loved God, he loved Eunice, he loved us, he loved anyone who was a servant of peace, justice or joy. He loved life."

In tribute to Sargent Shriver, in recognition of his accomplished leadership, immense skill, audacious vision and indefatigable energy, we dedicate The Living Village—the physical centerpiece of Engineering & Humanity Week 2011—to this outstanding American.

As you walk through The Living Village, where students will live, cook their meals, and sleep in temporary shelters designed to house people displaced by war and natural disasters, we urge you to reflect on the contributions of Sargent Shriver, whose legacy outlives him.  Confirmed through the lens of a half-century's experience, Sargent Shriver's idealism, enthusiasm and commitment to service were essential to the success of the Peace Corps. The SMU hilltop shines a little brighter this week because of Sargent Shriver. We are honored to have Anthony Shriver speak at the dedication of The Living Village to his father.


Inaugural competition: 2011 Student Design Challenge

Michael “Buz” Weas, President of HabiHut, is a juror for the Student Design ChallengeIf you could take an excellent technology and make it an outstanding one, what would you do and how would you do it? This is the challenge teams of SMU engineering and non-engineering students are tackling in the inaugural Student Design Competition for Engineering & Humanity Week 2011.

Too often, creative focus is on "leapfrog innovations" when big leaps can be made in advancing improvements to existing technology. This is the premise behind the student challenge to improve an existing, innovative shelter technology now in use for emergency shelter in Kenya—the HabitHut.

Teams composed of students from the SMU Engineering, Arts, and Business schools will submit plans to improve the overall HabiHut design, factoring in limited budgets and community challenges present in Kenya. Plans are to include branding art, marketing plans and an operational manual.

By capitalizing on the various strengths represented by different disciplines, holistic solutions rooted in skills learned in the classroom will be applied to a real-world challenge—making the HabiHut the best it can be. For student contestants, the experience seeks to mimic professional problem solving sought by private industry following graduation and help shape the students' views on their role in global development.

The competition is overseen by the Hunt Institute and the SMU Innovation Gymnasium housed in the Lyle School of Engineering. A panel of faculty, professional engineers and business people will judge the student designs based on a host of factors, among them: new ideas and fresh approaches; attention to cultural and environmental considerations with a focus on sustainable solutions; equal contribution from team members and their interdisciplinary skill-sets; an actionable plan with feasible strategies, defined goals and tangible results; and a professional and quality presentation with well thought-out concepts that can be defended at an expert level.

Jurors for the competition are:

  • Jeff Fulgham, Chief Sustainability Officer, GE
  • Judy Pesek, Principal/Managing Director of the Dallas office of Gensler
  • Ronald Omyonga, Architect & Consultant, from Nairobi, Kenya
  • Brent Brown, Founding Director, bcWorkshop
  • Michael “Buz” Weas, Entrepreneur and Co-Founder Mountain Systems
  • Reagan Jensen, Chief Investment Officer, Peregrine Group
  • Dr, Nathan Huntoon, Director of Innovation Gymnasium, SMU Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering
  • Dr. Andrew Quicksall, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, SMU Bobby B Lyle School of Engineering
  • Dr. Geoffrey Orsak, Dean, SMU Bobby B Lyle School of Engineering

Teams will give their final presentations on Wednesday, April 13, with the winner announced that evening at an awards dinner.


Special screenings: films you won't want to miss

Engineering & Humanity Week 2011 will feature these outstanding documentary films:

Monday, 7:15 p.m., Caruth Hall, Hillcrest Amphitheater

American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver

PBS Documentary, 90 minutes

Writer/Director/Producer: Bruce Orenstein

Sargent Shriver invented a string of social initiatives that shaped an era and dared millions of young Americans to live out their ideals. Those who knew him— Bill Moyers, Andrew Young, political commentator Mark Shields, and so many others — have spoken of Shriver in the same breath as Martin Luther King, Jr.,  calling him a visionary of deep humanity who helped create a more just society.


Tuesday, 7 p.m., Angelika Film Center

Bag It   

Documentary, 78 minutes; Purchase tickets, $10

Producer/Director: Suzan Beraza

An average guy makes a resolution to stop using plastic bags at the grocery store. Little does he know that this simple decision will change his life completely. He comes to the conclusion that our consumptive use of plastic has finally caught up to us, and looks at what we can do about it.


Wednesday, 7 p.m., The Living Village

The New Recruits

PBS, Documentary, 60 minutes

Producers/Directors: Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller & Jeremy Newberger

The New Recruits takes an unflinching look at social enterprise, a movement touted as the new alternative to charity – its ideals, practitioners, and realities. The result is an evocative ride along a road paved with good intentions.


Dean Geoffrey C. Orsak: Humanitarian-Focused Engineering

Dean Geoffrey OrsakEngineers love to chase big challenges. Some of the biggest challenges today include advancing green technologies, new applications in immersive computing and high-tech health systems that extend our life expectancy, just to name a few. But, by my assessment, the greatest remaining unmet challenge for engineering isradically improving the quality of life for the so-called "bottom half" of the world's population.

Some of our key professional societies (the IEEE and ASME included) have begun to take notice of this new challenge and have recently partnered to create the website "Engineering For Change," full of good examples and ideas. Academia is also catching on - two years ago we established arguably the first institute (Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity) focused on engineering's role in the developing world.

The more than three billion who struggle to survive on less than $2 per day have so many interwoven challenges that it is hard to know where to begin. Everyone has an opinion, or more precisely, an interest area such as water, microfinance, immunizations, etc. These issues all need champions and progress, but before you run off to do good work, let me offer you one important suggestion: first experience the world from the perspective of those you seek to help.

Their world is not a pristine laboratory, or even a messy garage with scattered tools. Their world begins and ends with a laser focus on personal survival.

New individual technologies aren't the solution this diverse and seemingly anonymous community seeks. Yes they help, but progress in health, education, personal safety, jobs and individual freedom are ultimately more vital and more important than new approaches to water purification, school and shelter design, or low-cost transportation.

So how do we walk in the footsteps of those whose lives are so fundamentally different from ours that the mere ability to read this editorial seems to hopelessly divide us?

To get right at this, we are trying something challenging that we hope will become a new national initiative for students and engineers interested in the humanitarian impact of our field.

The first Engineering and Humanity Week will take place April 11-15, 2011, with an ambitious beginning on my campus in Dallas, TX. The centerpiece of this effort is the student-led construction of a "living village," which will be an active and realistic test site for evaluating and improving a variety of ideas that are ready to be deployed in the developing world.

The concept is simple - our engineering students will construct and live in a small village that utilizes a variety of existing ultra-low-cost approaches to shelter, water, sanitation and food distribution. These students will blog daily about their personal experiences and develop specific plans to improve the functionality of the village.

From an educational perspective, the overarching goal is to develop future engineers into highly innovative problem solvers who are fully immersed in the real challenges of their "clients" - whether they are communities in the developing world or companies in the competitive commercial world.

The problems of the bottom half the world are immense and seem to be getting more difficult by the year. Big thinking and brave engineers are going to be key in turning this around, but we must begin somewhere. And this project is as good a place as any to start, and possibly the best for the engineering-minded humanitarian.

Geoffrey C. Orsak is Dean of the SMU Lyle School of Engineering. He can be reached at


Tracking progress: The Green House Truck

Selling gourmet food from customized trucks is one of the hottest trends in the restaurant business. Mobile restaurants crisscross American cities like Austin, Portland, Los Angeles and New York. The City of Dallas is looking into joining the parade, but for now only one such travelling gourmet diner is allowed to operate in the Park Cities area of Dallas.

The Green House Truck will be a special feature of Engineering & Humanity Week 2011.  Owner Michael Seigel encourages people to think of his converted Ford truck as “an outdoor coffee shop/ WiFi hot spot, where you can grab your food and enjoy you meal outside.”

Executive Chef Ben Hutchison promises E&H Week attendees "made-from-scratch food featuring fresh ingredients prepared daily.  The goal is to serve a quality product that is healthy, affordable, and fast.  We feature lean proteins and seasonal fruits and vegetables to ensure a delicious, balanced meal."

Hutchison is a familiar face to the kitchen for many Dallasites, having been in the kitchen for such restaurants as Food Company, Star Canyon, and Routh Street.

The Green House truck also practices its brand name. Green House uses 100% biodegradable and compostable containers, plates, and utensils. The truck's kitchen power source is a combination of propane and rechargeable batteries.

Most days, the only way to keep track of The Green House location and its breakfast and lunch menu is via Twitter and Facebook. But for Engineering & Humanity Week 2011, the truck will be parked in plain sight, it's cuisine for all to enjoy without environmental remorse.