Address community and technical needs.

Students eligible: Current University of Illinois students
Semesters of course offerings: Spring, Fall
Program length: 12 total credit hours
Format: In-person

Contextual Engineering draws upon the physical sciences, social sciences, and engineering to improve technical or organizational processes by engaging with user populations.

Contextual Engineering provides students with an understanding that every population has its own capabilities, needs, and values, all of which must be incorporated into technical design if it is to be functional and sustainable.

Contextual engineers are multi-disciplinary in exploring, creative in designing, and socially responsible in implementing. The skills CE employs are critical to a global workforce.

Students in Contextual Engineering Certificate program.
Students in Contextual Engineering Certificate program.

Program Highlights


Students seeking a CE certificate must take at least one course from each category, as well as a foundational Contextual Engineering course.

Opportunities are available for students to participate in research projects exploring a variety of contextual engineering applications for both international and domestic settings.

Required courses for certificate:

  • ABE 232: Context in International Interventions (3 credit hours, Fall) OR
  • ABE 532: Advanced Contextual Design (4 credit hours, Fall)

Elective courses for certificate (if applicable):
Students must complete one course from each of the three categories.

Category 1

  • ABE 152: Water in the Global Environment (3 credit hours, Spring)
  • ABE 450/451: International Water Project (3 credit hours, Fall and Spring)
  • ABE 452: Engineering for Disaster Resilience (3 credit hours, Fall & Spring)
  • ABE 456: Land & Water Resources Engineering (3 credit hours, Spring)

Category 2

  • ATMS 120: Severe and Hazardous Weather (3 credit hours, all semesters)
  • ATMS 140: Climate and Global Change (3 credit hours, Spring or Fall)
  • ATMS 202: General Physical Climate (3 credit hours, Fall)
  • ATMS 307: Climate Processes (3 credit hours, Spring) 
  • ATMS 322: Social Impacts of Weather & Climate (3 credit hours, Spring)
  • ATMS 404: Risk Analysis in Earth Science (3 or 4 credit hours, Fall)
  • ATMS 449: Biogeochemical Cycles (4 credit hours, Fall)
  • ATMS 491: Weather Hazard Risk Communication (4 credit hours, Fall)
  • ATMS 507: Climate Dynamics (4 credit hours, Spring)
  • CEE 340: Energy & Global Environment (3 credit hours, Fall)
  • CEE 350: Water Resources Engineering (3 credit hours, Spring)
  • CEE 433: Water Technology and Policy (3 or 4 credit hours, Spring)
  • CEE 438: Science & Environmental Policy (3 credit hours, Spring)
  • CEE 493: Sustainable Design Eng Tech (4 credit hours, Fall)
  • CEE 459: Ecohydraulics (4 credit hours, Spring)
  • GGIS 410: Green Development (4 credit hours, Fall)
  • NRES 431: Plants & Global Change (3 credit hours, Spring)

Category 3

  • ACE 255: Economics of Food and Environment (3 credit hours, Spring) 
  • ACE 476: Behavioral Economics and financial Decision Making (4 credit hours, Fall or Spring)
  • ACE 557/559: Food, Poverty and Development (2/2 credit hours, Fall)
  • CHLH 415: International Health (3 credit hours, Fall or Spring)
  • GGIS 106: Geographies of Globalization (3 credit hours, Fall)
  • GGIS 210: Social & Environmental Issues (3 credit hours, Fall or Spring)
  • GGIS 403: Geographic Information Science and Systems (4 credit hours, Fall)
  • GLBL 450: Poverty Interventions and Evaluation (3 credit hours, Spring)
  • SOC 100: Introduction to Sociology (4 credit hours, All)
  • SOC 270: Global Demography (3 credit hours, Spring)
  • SOC 480: Methods of Field Research (4 credit hours, Fall)
  • SOC 488: Demographic Techniques (4 credit hours, Fall)


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