International Sustainable Development Engineering Certificate

The Michigan Tech International Sustainable Development Engineering (ISDE) Certificate program allows undergraduate engineering students to augment their technical education with the knowledge, skills, and experiences important to working on solutions in developing communities. The 22-semester hour certificate program is designed to be woven throughout any engineering baccalaureate degree program.

The goal of sustainable engineering is to create ecologically and socially appropriate solutions within the capacity of nature without compromising future generations. This certificate provides students breadth in the areas of ethics, resource equity, economics, interactions between technology and society, engineering connections with the environment, engineering materials and water/sanitation, all at a global perspective. A senior design experience that requires students to work on an international engineering project is required to complete the certificate.

ISDE Certficate 4-year plan

Figure 1. One possible path through the certificate. While most of the classes could be taken in any order the International Project Practicum (example options: idesign, Aqua Terra Tech enterprise, Pavlis Leadership Institute, B.S. thesis, independent study, etc. are all acceptable, as long as they require you to work on a project in a community abroad for at least two weeks in-country) must be taken during your last year as an undergraduate. Consult the proposed flowcharts below as examples of how to best arrange the certificate with your major degree program.



Upon graduation ISDE Certificate students will have gained skills for working in diverse interdisciplinary teams, consensus building, appreciation for how engineering can assist the global community, critical thinking, oral and written communication, as well as community service. Students may continue their education in one of our other D80 programs.

We intend that graduates from this certificate program will become influential leaders of society. We are training students in ways of thinking that are desperately needed to solve our current and future world problems. Graduates will be uniquely suited to meet the challenges of business and government as well as to pursue research, public service and academia through higher education. With the unique required core experiences in this program as a foundation, graduates will be making a difference at all levels of society, from their personal lives to international affairs.

Certificate Courses (required credits)

Please inquire for course substitutions, if needed, for any elective options.

  1. Required core (7 credits)

    The following courses must be taken for fulfillment of certificate requirements.

    • ENG3530 Undergraduate Colloquium in Sustainability (1 credit)
    • International Project Practicum (6 credits, see Figure 1 caption for some possible options)
  2. Humanities Elective: HU2702 Ethical Theory and Moral Problems or HU4625 Risk Communication (3 credits)
  3. Elective: Language or culture (3 credits)

    As French and Spanish are spoken in many of the developing communities where many D80 projects occur, this certificate targets these languages and cultures. Other languages/cultures are possible, but it may be more challenging to find an opportunity to use this knowledge during your International Project Practicum. Here are some of the Michigan Tech courses (in Spanish/French) that will satisfy this elective.

    • HU2271 Level I-A French Language and Culture
    • HU2272 Level I-B French Language and Culture
    • HU2273 Transitional Level I French Language and Culture
    • HU3262 Topics in Francophone Cultures
    • HU3271 Level II-A French Language and Culture
    • HU3272 Level II-B French Language and Culture
    • HU3273 Level II French Composition and Conversation
    • HU2291 Level I-A Spanish Language and Culture
    • HU2292 Level I-B Spanish Language and Culture
    • HU2293 Transitional Level I Spanish Language and Culture
    • HU3264 Topics in Spanish-Speaking Cultures
    • HU3291 Level II Spanish Language and Culture
    • HU3292 Level II-B Spanish Language and Culture
    • HU3293 Level II Spanish for Special Purposes
  4. Economics Elective: BA4790 Ecology and Organizations (preferred) or BA4600 Management of Technology and Innovation or BA4780 International Business Communication (3 credits)
  5. Environment Elective: CE3503 Introduction to Environmental Engineering (preferred) or CE3501 Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering (3 credits)
  6. Society Elective: Technology and society (3 credits)

    Ultimately, solutions fail or succeed based on consideration of the users into the design. One of these Michigan Tech courses will satisfy this elective.

    • SS 3313 Sustainability Science, Policy, and Assessment
    • SS 3315 Population and Environment
    • SS 3410 World Resources & Development
    • SS 3580 Technology and Western Civilization
    • SS 3800 Energy Technology and Policy
    • SS 3801 Science, Technology & Society
    • SS 4200 Environmental Anthropology

Example flowcharts (the chartss below are courtesy Julie Ross, academic advisor for environmental and civil engineering undergraduates, consult your academic advisor for possible flow charts in other engineering fields)

  1. CIvil Engineering, BSCE Flowchart (ISDE Certificate).pdf
  2. Environmental Engineering, BSEEn Flowchart (ISDE Certificate).pdf

Similar flow charts could be created for other engineering majors. Talk with your academic advisor. With careful planning, many of the required certificate courses can also simultaneously satisfy your major degree course requirements. To date 40 students in environmental, civil, chemical, and computer engineering have participated in this certificate.



Web site


  1. Integrate international sustainable development theory into all engineering curricula
  2. Create engineers capable of creating a better future
  3. Provide a transcript identified certificate program for undergraduates


First year through Senior

For more information contact:

Prof. David Watkins

D80 Center

Michigan Technological University
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, Michigan 49931-1295

Ph. 906-487-2520
Fax: 906-487-2943

Michigan Technological University

1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, Michigan 49931-1295

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