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Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship

Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) is an integrated learning, research, and entrepreneurship program that brings together students and faculty across campus in the rigorous research, design, field-testing, and launch of technology-based ventures in low- and middle-income countries. 

Through a series of five courses and close co-development with stakeholders, HESE teams systematically advance ventures over multiple years with aspirations for large-scale commercialization and dissemination. Alongside the social enterprises, students work on original, publishable research that strengthens ventures by ensuring they use an evidence-based and data-driven approach. The overarching goal is to deliver sustainable impact while preparing students to use the tools of impact-driven problem identification, appropriate design of solutions, mission-focused business model development, and effective storytelling.

Students in the HESE program go on to a wide variety of careers. As expected, some go on to the Peace Corps or to work with non-government organizations in international development. Some launch their ventures or work with other social venture startups internationally or domestically. Many move on to graduate school to deepen their knowledge within their major, to enter a professional program, or to further their learning in international development. Many more go to work in multi-national companies where their mix of skills, hands-on experience, entrepreneurial acumen, and cultural competency make them a desired hire.

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  • Contact: 
  • John Gershenson, Ph.D., HESE director


The School of Engineering Design and Innovation delivers effective engineering education and unrivaled research opportunities through active, collaborative, project-based, and professionally oriented classroom experiences. The school offers a variety of programs that partner faculty, students, and industry in the study of real-life engineering problems. Our programs teach students to solve real-life problems with innovative solutions. 

School of Engineering Design and Innovation

304 Engineering Design and Innovation Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-2952