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Unformatted text preview: Humanitarian Engineering Creating Technologies That Help People Kevin M. Passino Humanitarian Engineering: Creating Technologies That Help People Kevin M. Passino Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering The Ohio State University 2nd Edition Bede Publishing, Columbus, Ohio, 2015 Cover photo: By the author, March 2005, Yuscaran, Honduras, C.A. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Passino, Kevin M. Humanitarian Engineering: Creating Technologies That Help People Edition 2 Includes bibliographical references. ISBN-10: 0692394222 ISBN-13: 978-0-692-39422-9 1. Engineering. 2. Humanitarianism. 3. Poverty c 2015 by Kevin M. Passino. All rights reserved. Bede Publishing, Columbus, Ohio, United States of America ISBN-10: ISBN-13: 0692394222 978-0-692-39422-9 Terms of Use: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. It is attributed to Kevin M. Passino. MATLAB and Simulink are trademarks of MathWorks. This book is provided by the copyright holder “as is.” Any express or implied warranties, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose are disclaimed. In no event shall the author be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, exemplary or consequential damages (including, but not limited to, procurement of substitute goods or services; loss of use, data, or profits; or business interruption) however caused and on any theory of liability, whether in contract, strict liability, or tort (including negligence or otherwise) arising in any way out of the use of this book or any information, theories, or software contained or described in it, even if advised of the possibility of such damage. Neither the name of the author nor the name of The Ohio State University may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this book, or the software contained in it, without specific prior written permission. In memory of my father, Stan Passino (1933-2013), my role model for taking action to promote social justice. To my mother, Mary Dolores Passino, the reason I am an engineer. Stan Passino, bricklayer, circa 1956, doing volunteer work (laying block). If you want to help fix the mess, you have to be a part of the mess, and learn to love the mess. Unknown origin Preface Ending poverty and promoting human development, in a socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable manner, is the greatest challenge of our era. This book examines the role of engineering in humanity’s quest to meet this challenge. Social justice is used to define broad goals, including human dignity, equal rights and social inclusion, along with environmental justice. Development strategies move us from current conditions of underdevelopment to social justice, and include approaches from development economics, health, education, and business. Engineering for sustainable community development, here via “participatory development,” provides an approach for engineers to cooperatively work with people on location to identify needs and resources, develop technology solutions, and assess impact. Definitions and Focus The following definitions help explain the focus of this book: • “Technology” is often thought of as “a tool that extends human capability” (e.g. from hammers, to bridges, to the internet). The New Oxford American Dictionary defines technology as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.” Encyclopedia Britannica defines technology as “the application of scientific knowledge to the practical aims of human life.” “Technologies are developed and applied so that we can do things not otherwise possible, or so that we can do them cheaper, faster, and easier” (Volti, 2006). • “Engineering” can be defined as “the use of science and mathematics to invent, create, design, develop, improve, modify, or apply technologies.” Of course, engineering also focuses on the creation of “processes,” but often it has a focus on technology for processes, such as computer automation for manufacturing. • “Humanitarian” has been defined as being “concerned with or seeking to promote human welfare” (New Oxford American Dictionary), which Preface vii is quite a bit broader than typical interpretations of this word in that it applies to long-term problems (not just natural disasters) everywhere, from individuals and community to international sites. Here, we define the meaning of “human welfare” via social justice. • “Social justice” can be defined as “standards for, and a view on how to promote, human dignity, rights, fulfillment for all of humanity.” Central to social justice are: (i) dignity, rights, and fulfillment of the human person; and (ii) the structure and systems that influence, support, or help humans achieve fulfillment (well-being, welfare, etc.) such as family, work, economics, politics, environment, and peace. In other words, human rights, fairness, equality, and helping each other are key issues in social justice. • “Humanitarian engineering” is “creating technologies that help people” (the book title/subtitle, and notice that the title and subtitle help define each other so that there is an emphasis on helping people in significant need). The term “create” is used as shorthand for the other ways technologies are introduced by engineers (e.g., use of off-the-shelf technologies where the only “creation” is matching a solution to a problem, or where existing technologies are modified for a specific context and where there is an increased element of creativity compared to direct but creative use of offthe-shelf technologies). Another good definition of humanitarian engineering is “creating technology to promote social justice.” An alternative to “humanitarian engineering” is “development engineering;” however, this term would normally imply a more limited scope (e.g., not considering disaster response) and many find that over-use of the term “development” is problematic and confusing (e.g., in engineering, “development” almost always refers to “technology development,” and so “development engineering” would imply that someone is “engineering a better technology development process,” which is indeed a focus in some disciplines of engineering that have nothing to do with humanitarian engineering). • “Development” in this book means either human development (not the development of a baby into an adult) or economic development, or both. Human development typically includes both intellectual and physical development, often economic development, and for some, also spiritual development (but individuals are the authorities on what development means to them). Economic development generally means more people earning more money. The focus of this book is more on human rather than economic development. Basic issues in human development (e.g., education and health) will generally affect economic development; however, this book does not focus heavily on business formation in the developing world, or job creation, explicitly, though that may be the result of some of the issues that are discussed (e.g., participatory social business). • “Sustainable community development” is the focus of a significant portion of the field of humanitarian engineering,a nd indeed “Engineering for Humanitarian engineering is the creation of technologies that help people. Preface Sustainable Development” would be a good title for this book. “Sustainability” and “sustainable” in this book will always pertain to the environment or some part of it like a specific ecosystem or local natural resource. The term “sustainability” in this book is always kept consistent with the definition of “sustainable development” by the Brundtland Commission that is given in Section 1.3 and work in the areas of sustainability, the environment, and the general field of sustainable development. In some work, the term “sustainable is used to describe (i) ruggedness, reliability, and robustness that ensure long-term failure-free technology operation; (ii) long-term financial support or viability; (iii) long-term government, organizational, institutional and/or community support; or (iv) long-term operation and maintenance of technology solutions. Here, these other connotations of the word “sustainable” are avoided and the appropriate and more descriptive terms indicated in this list, (i)-(iv), are used. This way, confusion about what type of sustainability is being discussed is avoided, particularly, when only one “sub-type” is relevant in the discussion or when environmental sustainability is not being considered at all. More importantly, by keeping terms distinct, significant conflicts between the ideas in (i)-(v) and ecological sustainability are avoided (e.g., financial viability can have significant conflicts with ecological considerations as is often the case in the developed or developing world, or when long-term operation implies long-term high rates of pollution). Clearly, haphazard use of the term “sustainable” is often problematic, and indeed may not even promote understanding of ecological sustainability. The key ideas discussed in this book are condensed into two pages, “The 10 Principles of Humanitarian Engineering,” at the end of the book on page 670. The objective of this book is to define the challenges of development, the goal of social justice, and then to provide a framework for creating, modifying, and using existing technologies for development, and promotion of social justice. Specific technologies are discussed only to provide concrete examples; there is no intent here to provide an exhaustive “handbook” or “field guide” for “humanitarian technology” or more specifically, “appropriate technology” (sometimes, these are called “development technology” if the focus is not, for instance, disaster response). I have confidence in the creativity of engineers, more generally, people’s ingenuity. Given challenges, goals, methodology, and constraints, individuals can create technologies that fulfill humanitarian needs today and in the future. A book focused on today’s technologies would soon be out of date. The Important Role of Engineers in Sustainable Development Systems of thought on social justice call out the importance of technology, stress its moral use (e.g., in issues connected to biotechnology, the environ- viii Preface ix ment, or weapons technology), and would then acknowledge the importance of what engineers do, and that they do it with a deep sense of fairness both in how they create technology and in the design of technology that promotes justice. Amartya Sen, a Nobel-Laureate economist, whose perspectives on social justice and development will be discussed in this book, said: “The gap between understanding how something would work and making it actually work can be quite a substantial one, and some of the major problems of technological advance in developing countries seem to arise from difficulties in the translation of science into technology” (Sen, 1975). This is a strong and authoritative endorsement of the value of engineering in development as engineers are the translators of science into technology. Supporting this, in (Volti, 2006) (p. 65), Volti says: “A great deal of scientific information finds its way into technological practice through the education of engineers.” Next, it has been noted that “technological advance has been the greatest single source of economic growth” (Volti, 2006), which is also supported by arguments in (Easterly, 2014; Acemoglu, 2009). Also, consider that Jeffrey Sachs says (Sachs, 2006): “We glimpse the pivotal roles that science and technology play in the development process” and in studying the history of economic development he says “Technology has been the main force behind the long-term increases in income in the rich world” and goes on to say that all countries, including developing ones today, can have “a reasonable hope of reaping the benefits of technological advance” and quotes John Maynard Keynes as concurring with this point (considered to be the most influential economist of the 20th century). Yet, the diffusion of technological innovations “often widens the socioeconomic gap between the higher- and lower-socioeconomic status segments” (p. 130, (Rogers, 2003)) as power, wealth, and information is in the hands of the wealthy who can then gain the benefits of technological innovation. Humanitarian engineering seeks to spread technological innovations to lower socioeconomic classes in the world to promote human and economic sustainable development. Indeed, for the lower socioeconomic classes, poverty is often coincident with problems of lack of clean water, inadequate sanitation, food insecurity, no available electricity, inadequate shelter, etc. Each of these presents technological challenges that various disciplines of engineering are well-prepared to deal with: water filtration, sanitation systems, agriculture, energy technology, architecture, etc. Engineers are needed to create practical and sustainable solutions for these development challenges, that is, to help with sustainable development. There are thousands of engineers graduating every year from universities around the world, and many more practicing in the “engineering enterprise” (entrepreneurs, industry, government, etc.). The field of humanitarian engineering hopes it can harness the talent of the engineering community and focus it on poverty, sustainable development, and the promotion of social justice. Clearly, if individuals in the profession of engineering work together, we can do much more than if we work separately. Indeed, currently and in the past, there have been many engineers involved in successful humanitarian work (even if while Poverty is coincident with problems that have technological solutions that engineers can help with. Preface x working they do not identify themselves as such like a medical doctor often does by wearing their white coat or stethoscope). This book seeks to synthesize the past and current work in humanitarian engineering, at least to some extent (a full history is not an aim of this book), and make some advancements in how to think about humanitarian engineering (e.g., via mathematical modeling, dynamical systems, feedback control, and computational analysis approaches). Book Organization and Themes To picture the organization of this book, consider Figure 1. Chapter 1, entitled “Poverty, Sustainability, and Culture,” and shown on top left of the diagram, defines challenges, and explores the role of the engineer in humanitarianism. Chapter 2, “Social Justice,” shown on the bottom left of the diagram, specifies local and global goals for humanitarian engineering. Chapter 3, “Development Strategies,” shown in the center, provides general methods to move current conditions (e.g., economic, health, and education) to improved conditions so that social justice goals are met. Development strategy choice and implementation, which depend on conditions and goals and may need to be dynamically adjusted, and are crucial to “convergence” of the development process, where convergence can be defined, for instance, by reduction of inequalities (e.g., economic or participatory), so that social justice is promoted. Chapter 4, “Engineering for Sustainable Community Development,” shown on the right side, uses the content of all the previous chapters and, via local, “bottom-up,” and “participatory development,” addresses community-identified needs via community/engineering cooperative creation of sustainable technological solutions. Chapter 1 Poverty, Sustainability, Culture (Challenges) Chapter 3 Development Strategies Chapter 4 Engineering for Sustainable Community Development Chapter 2 Social Justice (Goals) Figure 1: Book organization. You will see that modeling, dynamics, feedback control, optimization, and cooperation are underlying themes of this book (these are my own areas of expertise). In Chapter 1, models, dynamics, and feedback control for a financial advisor for a low-income person are developed and analyzed. In Chapter 2, wealth distribution policies, and democracy, for a community are developed; Central themes include modeling, dynamics, feedback, and cooperation. Preface these are distributed feedback and optimization methods that achieve types of cooperation. In Chapter 3, modeling and analysis of poverty traps, technology diffusion, and capital investment are studied, and this includes feedback control for spending and capital investment along with wealth distribution and democracy at the higher level. In Chapter 4, modeling and analysis of “sociotechnological dynamical systems” are studied and, in particular, cooperation for management of common pool resources in the form of technologies is studied using a distributed feedback control method. Moreover, modeling and analysis of how technologies affect sustainable community development are studied. The main technical and engineering content in this book are: (i) these studies of models, dynamics, and mathematical or computational analysis, and (ii) much of the material in Chapter 4, from “participatory technology development,” to humanitarian technology (e.g., appropriate technology), and humanitarian science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education (e.g., creating low-cost experiments for project-based learning). Multidisciplinary Approach Humanitarian engineering is highly multidisciplinary. It requires a broader foundation of knowledge than engineering in general. Like engineering, it includes all the physical sciences (e.g., physics and chemistry), life sciences (e.g., biology), and mathematics/statistics; however, it also includes all areas of social science. Compared to the traditional engineer, a good humanitarian engineer needs to know more about people, and in particular social human groups of all sizes, and how they interact. Humanitarian engineers need to know how to collaborate with diverse groups, where diversity means inclusion of experts outside engineering, members of a community, both genders, and other cultures/races. Most humanitarian work gets done “on the back of relationships” between people, and large structural problems of social justice require large diverse groups of people working together for their solution. Driven by both technical and social needs, this book incorporates elements of the following: • Engineering disciplines: Humanitarian engineering can fit into any engineering discipline and this book fits all these. At The Ohio State University (OSU), where I am employed, the engineering disciplines are civil, environmental, electrical, computer engineering, computer science, biomedical, mechanical and aerospace, chemical-biomolecular, agricultural, industrial, materials science and engineering, and architecture. • Mathematics and statistics: The need for mathematics and statistics is as great in humanitarian engineering as for any engineering discipline. Here, mathematical modeling (e.g., via nonlinear discrete time equations or ordinary differential equations) is used to represent a range of dynamical systems and standard analysis concepts are employed (e.g., equilibria, stability, sensitivity analysis, and optimization). Also, in our computational xi Preface xii analysis via Monte Carlo simulations we use simple ideas from statistics. • Social sciences: Each of the social sciences has a role in this book: – Economics and Political Science: Development economics, quantitative development economics, governments’ role, democracy, political philosophy, and technology policy. – Social Work: US and international, community theory and change. – Psychology: Counseling psychology and social psychology. – Sociology: Diffusion of innovations, technological change in society, and rural sociology. – Anthropology: Culture. • Philosophy, ethics, and religion: Social justice, religious and se...
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  • Spring '20
  • Sociology, humanitarian engineering

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