Improving lives through invention

The Lemelson Foundation Awards Grants to Five Universities to Accelerate Environmentally and Socially Conscious Engineering

New Engineering for One Planet (EOP) Initiative draws hundreds of stakeholders from academia, industry, philanthropy, government and nonprofit sectors

Portland, OR – The Lemelson Foundation, the world’s leading foundation focused on improving lives through invention, announced the launch of the new Engineering for One Planet (EOP) initiative intended to instill social and environmental principles across all disciplines of engineering education. In addition to a large coalition supporting this work, five universities in the US are on board to roll out new curricula over the next two years.

“Engineers have always been catalysts for significant social, economic and environmental advancements,” notes Carol Dahl, Executive Director for The Lemelson Foundation. “We want to make sure that today’s engineers, no matter their discipline, have the skills and knowledge to mitigate negative impact on people and the planet. We’re excited to see such a broad base of support for the EOP initiative.”

Although the benefits of incorporating environmental considerations are increasingly recognized across many sectors, the principles and the tools of sustainable design are currently not widely integrated into science and engineering curricula. As a result, too few students have the opportunity to develop these important skill sets needed to address global challenges like climate change, and ones that are increasingly demanded by employers as an economic and business imperative.

Mobilized by the Foundation and VentureWell, a leader in funding and training higher education faculty and student innovators in invention and entrepreneurship, the EOP initiative seeks to create systemic change by establishing environmentally and socially conscious engineering as a core tenet of the profession. It is guided by an Advisory Group that is composed of highly accomplished engineering professionals and academics, and that will also include students.

The Foundation and VentureWell, in collaboration with hundreds of stakeholders, have developed a draft curricular framework intended to be a tool for organizing and modifying existing curricula and experiences to incorporate core and advanced sustainability competencies tied to student learning outcomes. The framework represents the work of hundreds of collaborators and advocates, including stakeholders from academia, industry, philanthropy, government and nonprofits. The framework aligns with the US engineering accreditation body ABET and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Five Universities Chosen for Two-Year Pilot

Five academic institutions representing a geographic mix of public and private universities across the United States have been selected to pilot the EOP Framework. Arizona State University, Oregon State University, University of Central Florida, University of Maryland and Villanova University were selected based on their commitment to impact – in particular reaching engineering students not traditionally exposed to the knowledge, skills and competencies represented by the Framework. The two-year program will be instrumental in shaping implementation models and learnings for broader adoption among engineering programs across the US and internationally.

“The EOP Framework reflects competencies that are increasingly in demand by employers,” said Phil Weilerstein, President and CEO of VentureWell. “We realize curricular change is not easy, and the EOP community embraces the urgency behind this work. The kick-off of this pilot program is an important milestone in advancing the initiative.”

For more information about the EOP initiative and how to get involved, visit

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