The UC Berkeley Master of Development Engineering responds both to the growing need for Development Engineers to solve societal challenges as well as to the increasing importance of technology in the aid sector. The program reflects the demand for diverse STEM professionals who can invent, adapt, or implement technologies to benefit communities in need. The program will foster “T-shaped” professionals who have a broad base of general skills as well as deep knowledge in one area. The broad skills include the design and management of technology, knowledge of emerging technologies, evidence-based assessment techniques, economic development, and community engagement. The program’s curriculum enables students to further their expertise in one of the following four predefined areas: 

  1. Data analytics for social impact
  2. Energy and water systems and the environment
  3. Sustainable design innovations
  4. Healthcare transformations

If a student has interests outside of those areas, it will also be possible for students to devise a self-designed concentration in, for example, gender equity, global education, or technology, development and policy.  

Master of Development Engineering students will receive training through required and elective coursework taken over three semesters, a summer internship, a final project, and comprehensive oral exam. 

Who Should Apply?

The target audience is early- to mid-career professionals with an interest in advancing technology-driven solutions for local and global development. Because the field of Development Engineering grapples with social, environmental, political, economic, and technical challenges, we use “technology” to include new inventions as well as innovative re-designs of legacy tools or approaches to solve specific problems in developing regions. Graduates of the Master of Development Engineering program will deploy this technological mindset for career paths in multilateral organizations, charitable foundations, nongovernmental organizations, government agencies, multinational companies, and their own social enterprises. They will deploy skills in design and management of technology, knowledge of emerging technologies, evidence-based assessment techniques, economic development, social problem solving, and the critical 21st century skills of cross-cultural collaboration and community engagement.

Given the diversity of backgrounds students will bring to Berkeley, the program seeks to create curricular flexibility, while taking advantage of incoming students’ prior experiences to build dynamic learning opportunities. Notable features of the program include a pre-matriculation declaration of area of concentration, core courses focused on Development Engineering, a required summer internship, and a final project that will allow students to work in teams on applied projects that extend from assigned projects from core courses, their internships, their own initiatives, or social entrepreneurship collaborations.

As a whole, the Berkeley Master of Development Engineering aims to create a pedagogical structure and culture for students to engage in deep exploration of development at this particular moment in history when technological solutions—be they environmental, financial, or informational in nature—are available but unevenly implemented in low- and mid-income communities. The objective of the program is to enable a pathway for students with STEM training to use their expertise to address health access, financial inclusion, climate resilience, and other challenges of our time. The program underscores that Development Engineers are a new and needed type of 21st century professional. UC Berkeley, as the world’s foremost public research university with a long commitment to the global public good and offering top academic engineering and natural and social science programs, is the ideal place to educate and foster these professionals.

Learning Outcomes

The primary learning objectives for participants are to:
  • master methods of problem-conception and problem-solving for implementation of technologies in low-income regions; 

  • develop an understanding of the political and cultural complexity and place-based nature of technological interventions; 

  • deepen and expand knowledge in one engineering or natural or social science solutions area; 

  • gain core skills in qualitative and quantitative methods for evaluating technological interventions;

  • improve professional skills that involve community-based approaches, teamwork, communication, cross-cultural awareness, capacity building, and sustainable design.

Core Breadth Courses

DevEng C200: Design Evaluate & Scale Development Technologies: The course provides project-based learning experience in the development of human-centered products, services, or systems. The course teaches the mindsets, skill sets, and toolsets of design thinking with a focus on its use in development. The course is focused around the following modules that cover core phases of the design process: observe and notice, frame and reframe, imagine and design, and make and experiment. Students will also learn the theory of change and methods for assessing potential impact of technology interventions. Students will be expected to learn ethnographic interviewing, webs of abstraction, ideation, and basics of both hardware and software prototyping. The course will engage social impact designers from industry as speakers and coaches. 

DevEng 202: Critical Systems of Development: This course is intended to provide students in the Master of Development Engineering with the necessary background and knowledge to undertake projects and work experience of a global scope. Students will be exposed to a diversity of methodological frameworks, introduced to the skills needed to effectively participate in the sustainable development field (such as systems mapping and landscape analysis), and to understand the history and ethics of global development. Students will be required to complete an annotated bibliography and a systems analysis of a problem of interest.

DevEng 203: Digital Transformation of Development: As technology use proliferates globally, there exists significant potential leverage–such technology and associated data streams–to further understand and improve the lives and livelihoods of people in low-resource settings. Through a careful reading of recent research and through hands-on analysis of large-scale datasets, this course introduces students to the opportunities and challenges for data-intensive approaches to development. Students should be prepared to dissect, discuss, and replicate academic publications from several fields, including development economics, machine learning, information science, and computational social science. Students also will conduct original statistical and computational analysis of real-world data. They will gain an introduction to sensors as well as tools and methods for spatial modeling and spatial data analysis.

DevEng 204: Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship: Social entrepreneurship entails market-oriented approaches to address social problems for sustainable, scalable outcomes. This course will enable students to frame complex problems and devise entrepreneurial approaches for addressing them. Students study the dynamics of societal challenges and the conceptual framework of social innovation and social entrepreneurship from theoretical and practical perspectives. Students also explore technology solutions to address global social problems with a systems thinking approach. Students additionally learn how to develop appropriate business models and implementation strategies for a social venture. Student projects will integrate the development engineering goals of creating technology interventions designed to improve human and economic development in complex low-resource settings. This course is the first of a sequence of two final project courses for candidates of the Master of Development Engineering.

DevEng 205: Development Engineering Applications: This course is the second of a sequence of two final project courses for candidates of the Master of Development Engineering. Students engage in professionally oriented independent or group projects under the supervision of an advisor. The projects integrate the development engineering goals of creating technology interventions designed to improve human and economic development within complex low-resource settings.

 DevEng 206: Ethical Reflection and Portfolio Building: This course is intended to provide students with a forum for reflection on the Summer Internship component of the Master of Development Engineering as well as projects worked on to date. Topics covered by the course will include issues of power and privilege, civic engagement, political/public policy contexts, tensions between tourism vs. travel, and community service vs. engagement. Students will discuss and produce an op-ed on an issue of interest. Students will also develop a portfolio to capture their individual point of view and skill sets developed in the MDevEng.

DevEng 290: Perspectives on Development Engineering: Development Engineering represents a new interdisciplinary field that integrates engineering, economics, business, natural resource development, and social sciences to develop, implement, and evaluate new technological interventions that address the needs of people living in poverty in developing regions and low-income areas of the United States. This seminar, offered once per year, will feature guest lecturers with insightful perspectives on the emergent field. The DevEng 290 series covers current topics of research interest in development engineering. The course content may vary from semester to semester. All topics will address the development engineering goals of developing technology interventions designed to improve human and economic development within complex, low resource settings.

Concentration Areas

The MDevEng will offer five areas of concentration including a self-designed concentration, to enable depth of learning for MDevEng students. 

The concentrations are as follows:  

Data Analytics for Social Impact: students will take courses on how data tools and analytics give the social and civic sector actionable insights as well as courses on data-intensive approaches to international development.

Energy & Water Systems and the Environment: students will take courses on core natural resource challenges—water and energy systems and their impact on the environment—and on life cycle assessment, water resource management, agricultural impact, and energy technologies and policies.

Sustainable Design Innovations: students will take courses on sustainable design and social entrepreneurship, including principles of green design, the science of sustainability, resilient communities, sustainable economic models, green chemistry, product design, spatial modeling, affordable housing, public transportation, and equitable development.

Healthcare Transformations: students will take courses on the rapidly evolving landscape of global healthcare technologies and practices, including biomedical device design, health policy, health impact assessment, and the digital transformation of health care.

Self-Designed Concentration: students may elect to design their own concentration within participating departments. Examples of potential concentrations include: Gender Equity, Global Education, or Technology, Development & Policy.


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