University of Pittsburgh
December 23, 2010

Pitt in Brief: Engineering for Humanity Certificate, a New Look at Bolivia, and Deadline for Local Filmmakers

Contact:  412-624-4147
  • Swanson School of Engineering offers new undergraduate certificate in Engineering for Humanity
  • Bolivian culture and history subject of new Pitt e-journal
  • Pitt project for local aspiring filmmakers nearing script deadline


PITTSBURGH— Behind the larger stories about the University of Pittsburgh are other stories of faculty, staff, and student achievement as well as information on Pitt programs reaching new levels of success. The following is a compilation of some of those stories.

Swanson School of Engineering Offers New Undergraduate Certificate in Engineering for Humanity

Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering recently established an undergraduate certificate program that combines engineering with elements of business, public policy, and social science to help aspiring engineers implement technological responses to the world’s humanitarian ills.

The Engineering for Humanity certificate is a 15-credit program offered through the Swanson School’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. It comprises four three-credit courses and a service-learning project that can be implemented locally or internationally. Of the four courses, only two are explicitly related to engineering. The other two are a business-related course and a cultural course related to the region of the world in which the service-learning project will occur.

Program advisor Lisa Weiland, an assistant professor in the Swanson School’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, said the multidisciplinary approach enjoins students to approach such global problems as environmental preservation and water management from perspectives beyond the technical scope of engineering.

“Our students are aware that the very real problems affecting our world are too large and complex for one discipline to address alone,” Weiland said. “Ethics, economics, business, and societal perspectives—these must all be considered in any effective engineering approach. Today, engineers know that community projects require knowledge of society and how it functions. By challenging students to think beyond engineering and consider business-model development and social implications, we are dramatically increasing their ability to be successful.”

Weiland is the lead Pitt researcher for a collaborative project between the Mascaro Center and citizens of Vandergrift, Pa., that encompasses the elements of humanitarian engineering, she said. The Vandergrift Improvement Project is intended to reinvigorate the town’s central business district by reducing its power consumption and helping Vandergrift become more sustainable. Weiland is developing electroactive materials to help supply the town’s business district with free, clean-source hydrokinetic power from the nearby Kiskiminetas River. At the same time, citizens and business owners in Vandergrift are evaluating and adjusting their energy consumption in order to be more efficient producers and consumers of energy and goods.

For more information on the Engineering for Humanity certificate, contact Lisa Weiland at 412-624-9031 or, or Pitt News Representative Morgan Kelly at 412-624-4356 (office), 412-897-1400 (cell), or

University of Pittsburgh Publishes New E-journal on Bolivian Studies

New research on the history and culture of Bolivia is being solicited for the Bolivian Studies Journal/Revista de Estudios Bolivianosan e-journal published by the University of Pittsburgh’s University Library System (ULS), a national leader in Open Access digital publishing.

The Bolivian Studies Journal is an international, peer-reviewed journal, published by the ULS with the support of the University’s Center for Latin American Studies and Department of Hispanic Languages and Literature and edited by Elizabeth Monasterios and Martha E. Mantilla. The journal’s editorial board comprises well-known scholars, intellectuals, and writers working in Bolivia, the United States, and Europe. It publishes once a year and accepts material in Spanish, English, or indigenous languages.

Editors are seeking innovative interdisciplinary research that critically discusses Bolivia’s challenges in the new millennium. The journal is especially interested in disseminating research produced in Bolivia to a worldwide audience. It welcomes articles, case studies, discussions and interviews in a wide range of areas, including Andean studies, Amazonian studies, history, law, philosophy, visual arts, and many others. Visit the journal's Web site for information on submitting articles. For any other inquiries e-mail

The University of Pittsburgh’s E-Journal Publishing Program is part of ULS’ D-Scribe Digital Publishing Program. The ULS is the 23rd-largest academic library system within the United States. Under the administration of the Hillman University Librarian and ULS director, it includes 21 libraries and holds more than 6.2 million volumes and world-class specialized collections, among them the Archive of Scientific Philosophy and the Archives of Industrial Society, as well as major foreign-language materials from around the world totaling 1.4 million volumes. The ULS offers state-of-the-art facilities and services, with innovative digital library collections and capabilities.

For more information, contact Pitt News Representative Sharon Blake at 412-624-4364 (office), 412-277-6926 (cell), or

Pitt Project for Local Aspiring Filmmakers Nearing Script Deadline

Those who have dreamed of making films can still submit a script to the Steeltown Entertainment Project Film Factory competition. Scripts must be 12 pages and have a Pittsburgh connection. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 31.

The competition and unique mentoring program connects top entertainment-industry professionals from Western Pennsylvania with local emerging talent. Participants must submit a script, logline, synopsis, and a sample of prior work.

Ten semifinalists will have the chance to pitch their scripts during a Feb. 19 meeting at Pitt. On March 26, five semi-finalists will present their production plans, ideas, and budget to a panel at Point Park University. Finally, three remaining participants will have their scripts performed in live readings April 30 at Carnegie Mellon University. All three events are open to the public. The winner will receive $30,000 with which to make his or her short film.

Steeltown Entertainment Project was cofounded by Carl Kurlander, a Hollywood screenwriter and visiting distinguished senior lecturer in Pitt’s Department of Film Studies in the Schools of Arts and Sciences. To submit work and reserve a seat for the public meetings, visit the project’s Web site.

For more information, contact Pitt News Representative Sharon Blake at 412-624-4364 (office), 412-277-6926 (cell), or


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