National society recognizes College of Engineering as 'academic ally'


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — On behalf of the Penn State College of Engineering, Justin Schwartz, the Harold and Inge Marcus Dean in the College of Engineering, and Esther Adhiambo Obonyo, associate professor of engineering design and architectural engineering and director of the Global Building Network, received the Academic Ally award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) on Dec. 2, 2021.

The award was one of five “best of the best” recognitions made during the ASME Engineering for Change (E4C)’s fifth annual Impact.Engineered. This meeting celebrates the sustainable development ecosystem that convenes leading engineers, philanthropists, scholars and social entrepreneurs who are working to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and improve the quality of life globally.

“The E4C program is facilitating crucially important work, and we’re proud and thankful to be strong supporters,” Obonyo said during the virtual ceremony.

Recognized for its continued partnership with ASME and E4C programs and a shared mission to train the future workforce together, the college has demonstrated a commitment to social innovation with meaningful programs and faculty that is encouraged and supported, according to ASME. Specifically, ASME highlighted the latest Impact Project between E4C and Penn State on assessing the barriers preventing effective application of housing solutions for improving flooding resilience for housing using Dar es Salaam, Tanzania as a case study. E4C selects an annual cohort of fellows from a variety of graduate programs at universities across the country to pursue research projects related to supporting the SDGs.

Obonyo advised and mentored two teams of Penn State E4C fellows related to resilient housing:

  • 2020: Sun Hwi Bang, materials science and engineering doctoral candidate, and Julio Diarte, architecture doctoral student, who developed design and material concepts for resilient low-income housing in Kenya and Tanzania
  • 2021: Tiffanie Leung, architecture graduate student, and Ali Ghazvinian, architecture doctoral candidate, who advanced the concepts by examining barriers and enablers for scaling the deployment of affordable resilient housing strategies in Dar es Salaam.

“Much of our work is channeled through our Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship program and more recently through the Global Building Network, formed as a partnership between Penn State and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, and led by Professor Obonyo, to implement solutions for the built environment around the globe,” Schwartz said during the ceremony. “With participants from every facet of Penn State and beyond, we’re enthusiastically supporting projects that apply engineering in ways that improve life for all. We are engineering for humanity, and we are proud to partner with E4C in this pursuit.”

Kendra Sharp, head of the National Science Foundation’s Office of International Science and Engineering, presented the award to Schwartz and Obonyo.

To see the full list of awards and to learn more about the event, read the original press release here.


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