On March 10, 2023, the Mortenson Center hosted its 5th Annual Global Engineering & Resilience Awards, recognizing professionals and students whose work aligns with the Mortenson Center’s mission and vision. These awards seek to highlight the work of individuals who contribute to the field of global engineering. This encompasses not only those students and professionals in traditional engineering disciplines, with a focus on positive impact in low- and middle-income countries, but also those who are in related disciplines that take a solutions-oriented approach to the same challenges - water, sanitation, energy, food, shelter, and infrastructure. These related disciplines include global health, environmental science, atmospheric science, agricultural science, geography, governance, policy and community advocacy. The winners of the fourth Global Engineering Awards are listed below:
Emily Bedell, PhD
Global Engineering Outstanding Student Award
Emily holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of Nevada, Reno, an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Portland State University and a PhD in Environmental Engineering from CU Boulder. Emily’s work is driven by the fact that equitable access to clean drinking water and effective sanitation is a human right essential to all peoples’ health and livelihood. She strongly believes communities should be a driving force behind infrastructure improvement decisions, which is only possible through strong relationships built with care and intention. Solutions need to be implemented with genuine and equitable collaborations, and only then will we be able to ensure WASH access to historically exploited and oppressed communities globally.
Global Engineering Outstanding Professional Award
Denis Muthike is the Weather and Climate Thematic Lead at the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), a NASA SERVIR hub. Denis has committed most of his early career to finding solutions that strengthen climate adaptation for marginalized and vulnerable communities in the eastern and southern Africa region by leveraging earth observations, collaborations, training, and mentorship. He has overseen the design of methods, implementation, and scaling of climate vulnerability mapping projects resulting in thematic maps and localized climate adaptation plans. He has led these services for lake basin communities in the Lake Victoria Basin, rangelands communities in Kenya, water basin communities in Tanzania, agricultural communities in Malawi, and Eswatini, and disaster risk reduction programming for the IGAD region. He is currently involved in improving data and tools for flood and drought early warning in Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Malawi. Denis pioneered a comprehensive regional training program for women in climate action institutions to improve their capacity to use technologies and influence gender-sensitive climate policies, programs and interventions. He is a recipient of the SERVIR Individual Excellence Award and a Hult Prize recognition for mentorship. Denis is on course to complete an Environmental Studies doctorate at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Spring of 2023. He holds an MSc in Climate Change from the University of Nairobi and a BSc. in Environmental Science from Kenyatta University.
Musa Manga, PhD
Global Engineering Outstanding Professional Award
Dr. Manga is an Assistant Professor in Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at UNC and a member of the Water Institute at UNC, with more than ten years’ experience in water and sanitation. He uses environmental engineering and microbiology tools to identify low-cost, scalable, and sustainable interventions to interrupt the transmission of excreta-related diseases to protect public health and wellbeing. Dr. Manga’s broad research interests are in planning, monitoring, and improvement of water, sanitation, and fecal sludge management practices to promote: i) equity for underserved communities in both developing and developed countries; ii) development and validation of pathogen hazards and risk models; iii) environmental justice and climate change mitigation; and iv) optimization of sanitation technologies/wastewater treatment and BioResource Recovery (Nutrient and BioEnergy).
Daniel Oerther, PhD, PE
Global Engineering Humanitarian Award
Daniel B. Oerther (pronounced O’ thur) is a professor of environmental health engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology and the executive director of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. Dan is a serial humanipreneur, developing triple-bottom-line platforms to eradicate the effects of extreme poverty. One recent example is COAST - the Caribbean Ocean and Aquaculture Sustainability faciliTy. COAST is the world’s first-ever parametric insurance product protecting the food security and livelihoods of artisanal and small-scale fisherfolk and their families. Dan pioneered the concept of the Nurse+Engineer as a prototype V-shaped professional. V-shaped professionals use convergence research in a community context to solve the wicked problems of sustainable development. Examples of Dan’s collaborations include supporting mothers and their children during the first 1,000 days of life, preventing childhood stunting among those under five years of age, and ensuring access to clean water and sanitation in homes, schools, and healthcare clinics. Professor Oerther holds an earned PhD in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois. He is a licensed Professional Engineer, and he is Board Certified in Environmental Engineering and in Environmental Science. Dan is a Diplomat of the American Academy of Sanitarians, and for his sustained excellence in all aspects of environmental health engineering he has been recognized as a Fellow of numerous professional organizations including the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors; the American Academy of Nursing, the Academy of Nursing Educators; the Royal Society for Public Health; the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health; and the Society of Operations Engineers.