Design of Engineering Solutions for Health Challenges in Crisis – Beirut, July 2-20 2018

The Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) and the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) are jointly offering a three-week course on “Design of Engineering Solutions for Health Challenges in Crisis”, Beirut, 2-20 July 2018.

This course encourages students to engage in designing engineering solutions that would alleviate health challenges faced by people in protracted humanitarian crises. This Humanitarian Engineering course was designed to teach students how to identify and solve problems within both the academic and professional contexts. The course model is made of several components including interactive lectures and field visits to Syrian refugee settlements and facilities for interviews with care workers and refugees. In addition, students work in teams to conduct needs assessments, identify problems, ideate, design, and prototype solutions. All along the course, teams are mentored by engineering and public health faculty members. By the end of the course, students will have acquired skills in design thinking, interdisciplinary approaches, and contextualized innovation. The interdisciplinary course not only joins the efforts of both the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, but also engages faculty and students from renowned universities such as Boston University and Johns Hopkins University.

This course is part of the Humanitarian Engineering Initiative at AUB. The course syllabus follows:

Faculty of Health Sciences and Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, American University of Beirut

PBHL 320CC / BMEN798- Special Topics :

Design of Engineering Solutions for Health Challenges in Crises

Summer semester AY 2017 – 2018

Dates: July 2 – 20

Course Coordinators:

Name: Imad Elhajj (SFEA), Aline Germani (FHS)

Office: Bechtel 415, Van Dyck 113


Office hours: TBD

Class time and location:

This course falls under the category of Lecture + Lab. It is a mix of 40-45mn lectures, field work and lab time as per the detailed course schedule.

Course description

An interdisciplinary design course focused on humanitarian engineering solutions for health challenges particularly in protracted crises. The course is targeted at senior undergraduate and graduate students in engineering and public health domains. Topics covered in the course include the context of displacement in the Arab region, health and health system challenges, design methodologies both in engineering and public health domains, relevant technologies and engineering tools. The course culminates in a major design experience carried out by a multidisciplinary group. This will include problem definition, stakeholders’ involvement, ideation and design, prototyping and feasibility of deployment.

Course learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Apply participatory needs assessment tools in humanitarian settings
  2. Identify public health problems in humanitarian settings
  3. Apply formal design processes from different disciplines for the design of relevant and feasible solutions and interventions given a set of constraints
  4. Apply relevant appropriate technologies to prototype the designs
  5. Use effective communication tools to promote the solution to a diverse audience
  6. Work effectively in a team with diverse backgrounds and perspectives

Required readings

Will be circulated throughout the course on Moodle.

Course Structure

This course is designed and delivered in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design and the departments of Biomedical Engineering and International Health at Boston University. Students from these universities will join the course, either on their respective campuses through virtual portals or on AUB campus.

The course will also be announced to public health practitioners working in refugee settings in Lebanon.

The course is delivered through interactive lectures and discussions. It includes a community-based learning component that will allow students to interact with refugees residing in camps to assess their public health needs and identify one priority issue to develop a solution for. Teams from different disciplines and from the 3 universities will be formed. Solutions will be ideated, designed and prototyped in a hackathon and the feasibility of the prototypes will be assessed with the community.

The course structure is as follows:

  • Interactive lectures and presentations, and development of research tools
  • Site visits to assess the needs and define the problem; hackathon to design and prototype
  • Prototype deployment assessment and presentation of design & prototype to a jury

Course requirements and student evaluations

Your performance in this course will be evaluated based on:

 Assessment Percent Linked to which learning outcome?
A.Problem Definition: Students will be divided into teams of 7-10. Students will develop a problem statement based on the assessment of needs conducted in the field15%1, 2
B.Design assignment:

Each team will design a solution to address the public health problem identified.

20% 3

Each team will develop a prototype of the proposed solution

25% 4

Individual assessment through rubrics by peers and instructors

10% 6
E.Final Presentation: Each team will present their solution and prototype to a jury20% 5
F.Blog Post: Each student will submit a short blog post describing their experience10%5

Course ethics and AUB/FHS policies

  • The community-based learning component will require that you work off campus with partner institutions and in humanitarian settings; please maintain at all times a high degree of professionalism, confidentiality, respect for others and time, and a proper dress code.

Ø  Students with Disabilities: AUB strives to make learning experiences accessible for all. If you anticipate or experience academic barriers due to a disability (such as ADHD, learning difficulties, mental health conditions, chronic or temporary medical conditions), please do not hesitate to inform the Accessible Education Office. In order to ensure that you receive the support you need and to facilitate a smooth accommodations process, you must register with the Accessible Education Office (AEO) as soon as possible:, x3246; West Hall, 314.

Ø  Non-Discrimination – Title IX – AUB: AUB is committed to facilitating a campus free of all forms of discrimination including sex/gender-based harassment prohibited by Title IX. The University’s non-discrimination policy applies to, and protects, all students, faculty, and staff. If you think you have experienced discrimination or harassment, including sexual misconduct, we encourage you to tell someone promptly. If you speak to a faculty or staff member about an issue such as harassment, sexual violence, or discrimination, the information will be kept as private as possible, however, faculty and designated staff are required to bring it to the attention of the University’s Title IX Coordinator. Faculty can refer you to fully confidential resources, and you can find information and contacts at To report an incident, contact the University’s Title IX Coordinator Trudi Hodges at 01-350000 ext. 2514, or An anonymous report may be submitted online via EthicsPoint at

  • :
  • : Imad
  • : Elhajj
  • : American University of Beirut
  • : Training

by engineers.
for everyone.

E4C Membership is a curated experience! When you become a member, we will tailor a unique user profile for you based on the way you engage with our content over time. Your actions and preferences will allow us to serve you content that is most relevant to you. In addition, becoming an E4C member grants you access to exclusive engagement opportunities and the E4C newsletter.

Join E4C and become a part of a global community that believes engineering can change the world!

Become a Member