The Global Engineering Residential Academic Program (RAP) will prepare you for the global marketplace of ideas.

Many engineering students appreciate the new global conditions in the profession and seek opportunities to gain international experience. The College of Engineering’s First-Year and Graduating Senior surveys indicate that students are highly motivated to focus on Global Engineering as a growth field and as an area of crucial personal development.

Students outside of Kittredge Hall in the fallThe Global Engineering RAP not only supports students in understanding the global context and their role as engineers through the required RAP course but also provides a community through which to explore, discuss and apply the concepts of Global Engineering in their personal and professional lives. Students have direct interaction with faculty, staff, and graduate and undergraduate students who are engaging in Global Engineering research, policy and practice. The program also builds connections with international experts outside of CU Boulder, drawing on the experience of alumni, international research partners and organizations based in the Greater Denver area.

Global awareness and fluency in culture are critical to future engineers. By integrating your humanities and social sciences hours into your engineering coursework, you will bring a clearly differentiated skill set above and beyond your technical skills to future internships and jobs.


A Message from Faculty Director Evan ThomasMortenson Center Director Evan Thomas standing outside in front of a mountain backdrop

Travel is often considered a core part of our identity as Global Engineers. We want to be personally part of a solution in a community, working alongside our partners. Now, we're all grounded in the United States, Kenya, India, and every country around the world where Mortenson Center students, faculty, staff and alumni have been working. 

As has been said many times by others, COVID-19 is forcing a re-examination of our role as global professionals and travellers. You need only see the incredible differences in air pollution in cities like New Delhi to question if we really need to get back on those jetliners any time soon. 

COVID-19 has caused social and economic disruption worldwide and a reckoning of the balance in our priorities between public health and the economy. Our global response is heartening, and demonstrates our potential to work collectively to protect each other. Yet, this pandemic will not be borne equally despite these collective measures. In some ways, we are not in this together: COVID-19 will be exacerbated by underlying, chronic inequalities as basic as access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). This intersectionality - where these historic inequalities in access to basic services may accelerate the spread of COVID-19 - deserves attention equal to our present emergency response.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided clear guidance on the simple and critical measure we can all take to protect human health and reduce the spread of COVID-19: "Hands should be washed with soap and water." While clear and simple, this directive is far from attainable for the three billion people around the world who lack soap and water at home. 

Women gathering water outside in Kenya with yellow buckets on their headsWhile we don't yet know how many people will die from COVID-19, we do know that an estimated 842,000 people die every single year from a lack of safe drinking water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene. These deaths are almost entirely preventable - especially if we collectively made the extraordinary investments in solving these chronic problems that we are taking now with COVID-19. 

In the arid regions of Ethiopia and Kenya, where the Mortenson Center has extensive partnerships and programs, there remain shocking gaps in access to basic WASH. In Kenya about 35% of rural water pumps were broken before the 2016 drought. This increased to over 55% during the drought because of mechanical failures or depleted groundwater. In rural Kenya, only 59% of households have access to improved water sources, and only 10.1% have a place for handwashing with soap and water in their homes. In rural Ethiopia, 56% of households have an improved water source, while only 4% have a place to wash their hands with soap and water. 

The global community is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the process we are in danger of pulling resources away from addressing other chronic risks. Other human health hazards - like climate change, drought, food and water security - have not gone away. We must apply our ability to act collectively to solve these chronic global engineering and public health challenges.