At Olin, faculty members and students are passionate about engaging in activities that have direct positive social and environmental impact.

Design for Development

Joint with MIT’s D-Lab, Olin has been a co-leader of the annual International Development Design Summits (IDDS). These summits are intense, hands-on, community-based design trainings that bring together a diverse group of people to teach them the co-creative design process and how to prototype low-cost technological solutions to improve livelihoods of people living in poverty.  For several years, Olin faculty members and students have collaborated with people around the world to realize positive impact for communities across the globe.

Social & Environmental Research and Design

Olin faculty lead external impact programs that have direct positive impacts on our planet. These include Professor Ben Linder’s work on sustainable design and consulting, Assistant Professor Scott Hersey’s research on improving air quality in low-income areas of the world and Assistant Professor Alison Wood’s research on sanitation and wastewater treatment. Through their involvement of students in these activities, students are being trained to become engineering innovators who will take action to improve people’s lives and our planet.

Impactful Learning Opportunities 

Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship (ADE) is one of Olin’s year-long senior capstone programs, which can also be taken as a one-semester design depth.   Through ADE, our faculty and students work on initiatives aimed to improve aspects of human life including food security, education, air quality or economic opportunities with people from areas of the globe including Ghana and poverty-stricken areas of Massachusetts and Mississippi.  Students can further develop tools for achieving social and environmental impact through additional courses in environmental science and environmental engineering.

Sustainability Certificate Program for Olin, Babson and Wellesley Colleges

The Sustainability Certificate Program is a way for students to focus their passions for the planet around a series of courses related to sustainability.  This program also affords Olin students the opportunity to collaborate with students coming from different schools and majors.

Grand Challenge Scholars Program

Motivated by the National Academy of Engineering’s 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering and increasing calls for a new engineering education paradigm, Olin College, along with Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering and the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering, proposed a new education model to prepare engineers to become world changers. The program was endorsed by the National Academy of Engineering in February 2009 and has been implemented at over 40 engineering schools around the world.  Olin’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program allows students to reflect on their experiences that have prepared them to tackle today’s grand challenges in order to improve people’s lives and the health of our planet.