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Mortenson Center in Global Engineering

Honorable Mention recipient of the 2020 Constellation Prize for policy-making

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"The Mortenson Center in Global Engineering advances the call for engineering activists and advocates, rejecting ahistorical technocratic approaches that suggest poverty can be solved without justice or equity."

~Dr. Evan Thomas


The Mortenson Center in Global Engineering (MCGE) is a collaborative team providing the knowledge and tools necessary to work in fields of community recovery, research, design and development of holistic solutions across technical and non-technical issues, and build local capacity through engaged collaboration with organizations.


MCGE’s faculty, students and alumni have worked in over forty countries, reaching millions of people with clean water, safe sanitation, improved air quality, and pedestrian footbridges. MCGE students work with 30+ partner agencies and alumni are now policymakers, CEOs, executive directors and entrepreneurs working to alleviate poverty and magnify impact.


In partnership with communities, government institutions, and leading NGOs, MCGE responds to emerging issues to create solutions with shared resilience; moving away from increasingly abandoned concepts of “developed” and “developing” communities, which fail to capture today’s reality of both challenges and opportunities in the U.S. and around the world. MCGE addresses structural and historical barriers to global prosperity that require engineers to focus more broadly on improving tools and practice of poverty reduction, including health, economics, policy, and governance as relevant and critical expertise to enact change.


Global engineering is concerned with the unequal and unjust distribution of access to basic services such as water, sanitation, energy, food and shelter, and emphasizes identifying drivers and solutions toward increasing equitable access to reliable services. Toward that end, MCGE develops technical and systems-based tools to address these challenges, drawing on engineering expertise in last-mile infrastructure and disaster-resilient shelter design, satellite-based groundwater sensors, microbial water contamination fluorimetry, in-home air quality sensors and machine-learning calibration tools to monitor and forecast water quality, food security and groundwater demand for integrated decision support to enable proactive responses to climate-change impacted, impoverished communities in the U.S. and internationally.


MCGE adapts its technical focus toward sustainable groundwater management and water insecurity challenges in the Western U.S., collaborating with ranchers, farmers, municipalities and tribal communities to manage this finite resource.

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