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Dayton Engineer

Collage of graduates. Patrick Hoody on the right and Andrea Hernandez on the left.

First Students Graduate this December with Human Rights in Engineering Minor

The University of Dayton School of Engineering recently started a new minor in human rights in engineering — and the first two students to choose the minor are graduating this December.

Patrick Hoody and Andrea Hernandez, both mechanical engineering majors, credit the minor for providing them opportunities and a mindset to succeed in careers in human rights, sustainability and climate change.

Patrick Hoody

Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, Hoody wasn’t unfamiliar with UD. Two of his sisters were Flyers before him, which made his decision to become a Flyer easy. 

During his junior year at UD, he learned about the new major during a class with Dr. Bob Brecha, director of the sustainability program and Hanley Sustainability Institute. 

“I was really hoping to learn how engineering was tied to human rights. I've been able to do two Ethos experiences so I had seen it but I hadn't really learned about it,” Hoody said. “For example, understanding how energy systems can impact specific human rights. That was something I had actual knowledge that was good, and obviously I could see that it was doing good, but I didn’t know what it meant.”

Hoody completed two Ethos experiences. During his junior year, he spent 11 weeks in India working with agriculture teams to learn how rice and millet are processed and how to make that more energy efficient to bring that to rural and small scale farmers

He also spent last summer in Antigua and Barbuda on a project to help create a hurricane resistant wind turbine.

“I think my interest in human rights and the humanitarian side of engineering arose largely during sophomore year when I started to get more involved with extracurriculars...I was a part of the Dayton Civic Scholars in the Fitz Center and was interested in how engineering can be applied beyond manufacturing and industrial industries,” Hoody said. “Then junior year, I had pursued a sustainability minor and through those courses I learned about energy equity and climate justice.”

Now that his time at UD is closing, Hoody is eager for what’s coming next. He is currently applying for graduate programs in the U.S. and Europe that are focused on climate change and climate justice.

“I’m glad UD has a focus on human rights beyond what is typically known,” Hoody said.


Andrea Hernandez

Ever since she was young, Andrea Hernandez, from Chicago, was interested in tinkering with anything she could.

“When my dad would be working on the car, I would hang around and ask so many questions about what he was doing and why he chose certain parts,” Hernandez said. 

She knew engineering was a natural fit for her interests and heard about UD through a highschool teacher. The Ethos Center was also the perfect opportunity to grow her interest in humanitarian engineering.

Hernandez wanted to combine humanitarian efforts and engineering into a career where she could be hands-on with the community. The human rights in engineering minor was an added bonus to grow her knowledge and skills.

She spent 11 weeks in the summer in Bolivia building hydroponics systems, which grow crops in water with no soil and can be in smaller spaces.

“In my experience with Ethos, we were engaging with the community and bringing in our ideas,” Hernandez said. “It wasn't us throwing ourselves onto them. It was working with them hand in hand and building things, physically.”

After graduation, Hernandez will spend time in Mexico, where her family is from, to learn more about community resources and programs they offer that are similar to nonprofits the Ethos Center partners with.

“As I study human rights, I have been exposed to many more overlooked marginalized communities,” Hernandez said. “It has inspired me to shift from an advocate to an activist by using my engineering background. This is now the career I aspire to have."


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