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Dr. Janet Ellzey delivers 2023 Michael Korybalski Distinguished Lecture

From left: Michael Korybalski, Janet Ellzey, and Ellen Arruda

Janet Ellzey, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Foundation Centennial Teaching Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, delivered the 2023 Michael Korybalski Distinguished Lecture in Mechanical Engineering on Friday, November 9, 2023. Ellzey’s lecture, titled “Humanitarian Engineering: Educating Bold, Responsible, and Innovative Leaders,” focused on humanitarian engineering, the application of engineering solutions to low-income or marginalized communities, a growing field in the US and worldwide.

Sometimes called development engineering, researchers and practitioners in this area focus on culturally appropriate solutions for resource-constrained environments such as refugee camps or low-income communities.  Engineering schools are increasingly recognizing the importance of training students in humanitarian engineering and are developing programs using different approaches, from student organizations to full degree programs.

At the University of Texas at Austin, Ellzey has built an academic certificate that provides students with several pathways to use their engineering skills to positively impact the world, including a design and build program in which student teams partner with local communities and an innovation program to develop new technologies for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.  In this talk, Ellzey discussed this exciting engineering field, described the programs at UT-Austin, and presented challenges and opportunities for universities wanting to enter this field.

A recording of the U-M ME 15th Annual Korybalski Lecture featuring Janet Ellzey is available now. Photos of the event can be viewed on the U-M Mechanical Engineering’s Flickr page.

Dr. Janet Ellzey is a professor of mechanical engineering and the Engineering Foundation Centennial Teaching Fellow in the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her BS and MS degrees in mechanical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and her PhD from the University of California-Berkeley. She has extensive academic administrative experience including serving as vice provost for international programs from 2009 to 2017. In 2020-21, she was a Jefferson Science Fellow at USAID in Washington DC where she studied the opportunities for universities to participate in development and humanitarian response.

After more than 30 years of conducting experimental and computational research in the field of combustion, Dr. Ellzey pivoted her career to focus on creating unique educational initiatives at the intersection of engineering and social justice. Recognizing the passion of university students to use their skills to positively impact society, she launched a program in humanitarian engineering which she now directs. Through creative partnerships with local communities abroad as well as with major international organizations, she has developed a network to educate the next generation of bold, innovative, and responsible leaders.

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