The University of Sydney has moved to meet a real gap and support the Humanitarian Engineering sector. It has launched an innovative humanitarian major for undergraduate engineers.

Lecturer Jacqueline Thomas says, “we know engineers with skills and experience in humanitarian work are needed throughout various industry sectors. The diverse skills learnt in this major will set our graduates apart when they enter the workplace as market ready resources for NGO partners.”

The program addresses real human problems by applying diverse engineering skills to development, disaster and remote community contexts. It is about meeting the needs of communities on a global scale.

The application of engineering processes and technology will improve the following, while maintaining a focus on sustainability and appropriateness:

  • water and sanitation;
  • waste treatment;
  • affordable housing, and
  • housing construction methods and disability access.

This exciting new major provides students with the crucial knowledge and skills required to plan, implement and maintain projects in developing countries as well as rural Australian communities.

Linkages to existing NGO organisations is enhanced as it enables students to explore international aid and development. Most importantly, the program promotes learning from experienced practitioners and industry partners on how to work in disadvantaged communities, fragile states and communities in disaster recovery.

Engineers who work in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) are critical to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6: Access to safe water and sanitation. The Humanitarian Engineering major gives engineers of diverse backgrounds, introductory skills and knowledge about WaSH challenges and solutions, both in a development and disaster relief context. All streams of engineering have a roll to play in achieving SDG 6.

If you are interested in studying in this area visit the Sydney Universities website.

Occasionally there are opportunities for volunteers to get involved with our projects, on the ground.  Are you interested in volunteering to help with the installation of clean water filtration systems?  If so, download and complete the Volunteer Application Form and email it back to us at

UOS Humanitarian Engineering Students assessing a protected spring in Samoa, July 2017.