Development Engineering

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Through coursework, research mentoring, and professional development, the Designated Emphasis in Development Engineering (DE in DevEng) prepares students to develop, pilot, and evaluate technological interventions designed to improve human and economic development within complex, low-resource settings. 

The DE in DevEng is an interdisciplinary training program for UC Berkeley doctoral students from any department whose dissertation research includes topics related to the application of technology to address the needs of people living in poverty. Students from all departments can apply

With initial support from USAID’s Global Development Lab, the program builds upon ongoing research in technological innovations, human-centered design, development economics, remote sensing and monitoring, data science, and impact analysis at UC Berkeley. The program also features a National Science Foundation Traineeship for Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems, InFEWS.

DevEng students are connected to an ecosystem of researchers and practitioners at Berkeley via the Graduate Group in Development Engineering, and also have access to a dynamic global network.

What is a Designated Emphasis? A “Designated Emphasis” (DE) is a campus-wide system that provides doctoral students with certification in specialties outside their home discipline, to be added to their doctorates.

Coming Soon: Master of Development Engineering

Apply now to join UC Berkeley’s new Master of Development Engineering degree in Fall 2021!

The three-semester Master of Development Engineering program at UC Berkeley integrates training in engineering with entrepreneurship, design, business, and policy—among others—to support students in creating technological interventions in accordance with the needs and wants of individuals living in complex, low-resource settings.

The application deadline is February 1, 2021 for the Fall 2021 class.

Find out more about the program here:

Visit Program Website


To be admitted to the Designated Emphasis in Development Engineering, an applicant must already be accepted into a PhD program at the University of California, Berkeley. Before applying for the DE, interested PhD students should arrange a consultation meeting with one of the development engineering faculty advisers. Students must apply at least one semester before their PhD qualifying examination. Admission to the Designated Emphasis in Development Engineering is determined by the development engineering faculty advisers on a rolling basis throughout the academic year.

After the initial consultation meeting, a student must submit the application by email to the Graduate Student Affairs Officer, Development Engineering Faculty Adviser, and to the Development Engineering Chair. The application must contain*:

  1. Application forms for Admission to the Designated Emphasis in Development Engineering.
  2. Letter of intent summarizing research interests and educational or employment background in issues related to development economics or development engineering.
  3. A list of courses you expect to use to satisfy the elective requirement and a timeline for completion.
  4. Letter of recommendation from a member of the development engineering faculty graduate group (or the student’s graduate adviser).

For the application and detailed information on the Development Engineering Designated Emphasis, please see its website.

For further information regarding admission to graduate programs at UC Berkeley, please see the Graduate Division's Admissions website.  

* If you have applied to InFEWs, you will have submitted these documents except the timeline and courses.  Please submit that within one year of the InFEWs application.

Designated Emphasis Requirements


The Designated Emphasis in Development Engineering requires a total of five courses, comprised of two core courses and three electives. Of the two core courses, Dev Eng C200/Mech Eng C200/MBA 290T must be taken prior to the qualifying examination.  Electives must be selected from the areas listed below: 1) Problem Identification and Project Design, 2) Evaluation Techniques and Methods for Measuring Social Impact, and 3) Development Technologies. The three electives must span at least two areas. Of the three electives, only one can be from the student’s home department. Students are encouraged to take one elective prior to the qualifying examination, but this is not required. All course work should be taken for a letter grade. See the program website for more information.

Required Courses
DEV ENG C200Design, Evaluate, and Scale Development Technologies3
DEV ENG 210Development Engineering Research and Practice Seminar2

Development Engineering Electives:  Three electives from at least two of the thematic modules.

Problem Identification and Project Design
CIV ENG 209Design for Sustainable Communities3
DEV ENG 215Global Poverty: Challenges and Hopes in the New Millennium4
DEVP 225Innovation, Product Development, and Marketing3
DEVP 232Foundations of Public Health2
ENE,RES 273Research Methods in Social Sciences (Social Science Research Methods)3
ENE,RES 298Doctoral Seminar (Energy and Environmental Justice)2
ESPM 226Interdisciplinary Food and Agriculture Studies3
ESPM 230Sociology of Agriculture4
ESPM 261Sustainability and Society3
ESPM C282Health Implications of Climate Change3
INFO 213User Interface Design and Development4
INFO 214User Experience Research3
INFO 272Qualitative Research Methods for Information Systems and Management3
INFO 283Information and Communications Technology for Development3
MBA 215Business Strategies for Emerging Markets: Management, Investment, and Opportunities3
MEC ENG 290HGreen Product Development: Design for Sustainability3
MEC ENG 290PNew Product Development: Design Theory and Methods3
PB HLTH 200KEnvironmental Health Sciences Breadth Course2
PB HLTH 214Eat.Think.Design3
Evaluation Techniques and Methods for Measuring Social Impact
A,RESEC C253International Economic Development Policy3
DEVP 222Economics of Sustainable Resource Development3
DEVP 228Strategic Planning and Project Management3
DEV ENG 290Advanced Special Topics in Development Engineering1-3
ECON 219BApplications of Psychology and Economics3
ECON 240AEconometrics5
ECON 240BEconometrics4
ECON C270AMicroeconomics of Development3
ECON 270BDevelopment Economics3
ECON 274Global Poverty and Impact Evaluation4
ENE,RES 275Water and Development4
ENE,RES 276Climate Change Economics4
ESPM 260Governance of Global Production3
INFO 272Qualitative Research Methods for Information Systems and Management3
MBA 292SSocial Sector Solutions3
MBA 296Special Topics in Business Administration (Applied Impact Evaluation: How to Learn What Works to Lower Global Poverty)1-3
PB HLTH 235Impact Evaluation for Health Professionals3
PB HLTH 252CIntervention Trial Design3
PUB POL 249Statistics for Program Evaluation4
PUB POL C253International Economic Development Policy3
Development Technologies (Appropriate Technologies, Sensors, Data Collection, Data Mining and Analysis)
BIO ENG 168LPractical Light Microscopy3
CIV ENG 210Control of Water-Related Pathogens3
CIV ENG 211AEnvironmental Physical-Chemical Processes3
CIV ENG 271Sensors and Signal Interpretation3
CIV ENG 290Advanced Special Topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering (Control Market and Privacy Tools for Participatory Sensing)1-3
COMPSCI 289AIntroduction to Machine Learning4
COMPSCI 294Special Topics (Behavioral Data Mining)1-4
ECON 291/ENGIN 298BDepartmental Seminar (Behavior Management and Change)1
ENE,RES C200Energy and Society (Energy and Society)4
ENE,RES C221Climate, Energy and Development (Energy, Climate, and Development)3
ENE,RES C271Energy and Development (Energy and Development)3
ESPM 217Political Economy of Climate Change3
ESPM C234Green Chemistry: An Interdisciplonary Approach to Sustainability3
ESPM 261Sustainability and Society3
INFO 271BQuantitative Research Methods for Information Systems and Management3
INFO 283Information and Communications Technology for Development3
INFO 290Special Topics in Information (Data-Intensive International Development)1-4

Qualifying Examination

All students must apply and be accepted to the Designated Emphasis in Development Engineering at least one semester before their qualifying examination. At least one faculty member of Development Engineering must participate in the qualifying examination committee and will evaluate the exam from relevant perspectives. Satisfactory performance on the qualifying examination for the PhD will be judged according to the established rules in the student’s home department. Online forms must be submitted with approval from both the department and the designated emphasis, at least one month in advance of the exam. For more details, please see the website.

Note: If none of the faculty advisers/committee members on your qualifying exam or dissertation are in the Graduate Group in Development Engineering, consider encouraging one of them to apply for membership in the Graduate Group in Development Engineering. The faculty should contact the faculty chair (see Contact Information tab on right sidebar). 

Advancing to Candidacy

Students must have a designated emphasis member on the dissertation committee as well as obtaining the approval of the designated emphasis Head Graduate Advisor at the time of applying for candidacy. The Graduate Student Affairs Officer must affirm completion of the Designated Emphasis course work on the Academic Progress Report after advancing to candidacy and prior to graduation.


The dissertation must contain themes relevant to the field of Development Engineering (e.g., technology for economic and social development). The student’s dissertation committee must include at least one faculty in development engineering who can evaluate the dissertation from relevant perspectives.

Faculty and Instructors

+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Charisma Acey, Assistant Professor. Water, sanitation, basic services delivery, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability, environmental justice, urban governance, participatory planning, community-based development, international development, development planning, sustainable development, African studies.
Research Profile

Alice M. Agogino, Chair of Development Engineering. New product development, computer-aided design and databases, theory and methods, intelligent learning systems, information retrieval and data mining, digital libraries, multiobjective and strategic product, nonlinear optimization, probabilistic modeling, supervisory.
Research Profile

Joshua Blumenstock, Assistant Professor. Development Economics, Data Science, Econometrics, Machine Learning, ICTD.
Research Profile

Jenna Burrell, Associate Professor. School of Information.

John Canny, Professor. Computer science, activity-based computing, livenotes, mechatronic devices, flexonics.
Research Profile

Jack Colford, Professor. Public health, epidemiology, infectious diseases, biostatistics, meta-analysis.
Research Profile

Daniel Fletcher, Professor. Bioengineering, optical and force microscopy, microfabrication, biophysics, mechanical properties of cells.
Research Profile

Ashok Gadgil, Professor. Fuel-efficient stoves, indoor air quality, energy efficiency, developing countries, drinking water, buildings energy efficiency .
Research Profile

Paul Gertler, Professor. Impact evaluation, health economics.
Research Profile

Maria Paz Gutierrez, Associate Professor. Next-generation building systems, self-regulated facades, biologically inspired technologies, multifunctional materials.
Research Profile

Daniel Kammen, Professor. Climate Change, Engineering, Environment, Energy, Renewable and Clean Energy, Energy Forecasting, Health and Environment, International R&D Policy, Race and Gender, Rural Resource Management.
Research Profile

G. Mathias Kondolf, Professor. Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning, Hydrology, environmental planning, river restoration, urban river management, river-basin scale sustainable sediment management, strategic planning for hydroelectric dams.
Research Profile

David Levine, Professor. Organizational learning, economic development, management, workplace, health and education in poor nations.
Research Profile

Baoxia Mi, Associate Professor. Membrane separation, desalination, water purification, wastewater reuse, environmental applications of nanomaterials.
Research Profile

Kara L. Nelson, Professor. Water and wastewater treatment, water reuse, detection and inactivation of pathogens in water and sludge, appropriate technologies .
Research Profile

+ Kameshwar Poolla, Professor. Cybersecurity, modeling, control, renewable energy, estimation, integrated circuit design and manufacturing, smart grids.
Research Profile

Matthew D. Potts, Associate Professor. Forest management, biofuels, plantation agriculture, land use planning, land use policy, biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, tropical ecology, environmental economics.
Research Profile

Michael Ranney, Professor. Problem solving, knowledge representation and reorganization, explanatory coherence and inference, conceptual change, societal implications, science instruction, global climate change psychology, numeracy in journalism, naive/informal physics, computational models of cognition, perceptual-cognitive interactions, intelligent tutoring systems, understandings of biological evolution, Reasoning, qualitative and quantitative thinking.
Research Profile

Benjamin Recht, Associate Professor. Machine learning, data science, artificial intelligence.
Research Profile

Elisabeth Sadoulet, Professor. Economics, agriculture, labor management and policy.
Research Profile

S. Shankar Sastry, Professor. Computer science, robotics, arial robots, cybersecurity, cyber defense, homeland defense, nonholonomic systems, control of hybrid systems, sensor networks, interactive visualization, robotic telesurgery, rapid prototyping.
Research Profile

Zuo-Jun (Max) Shen, Professor. Industrial Engineering and Operations, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Integrated Supply Chain Design and Management, Data Driven Logistics and Supply Chain Optimization, Design and Analysis of Optimization Algorithms, Energy Systems Optimization, Transportation System Planning .
Research Profile

Kirk R. Smith, Professor. Climate change, public health, air pollution, environmental health science, global health, household energy.
Research Profile

+ Laura D'Andrea Tyson, Professor. High-technology competition, US industrial and technology policies, international economy, US trade policy, US competitiveness, emerging market economies, multinational companies in the US economy, gender gap (economic participation, educational attainment, political empowerment and health), research and development tax credit.
Research Profile

Sarah Vaughn, Assistant Professor. Cultural anthropology, post-colonial science, environment, climate change, vulnerability, theories of liberalism, Caribbean, Latin America.
Research Profile

Catherine D. Wolfram, Professor. Climate change, energy efficiency, regulation of business, energy and environmental markets.
Research Profile

David Zilberman, Professor. Marketing, biotechnology, water, risk management, biofuels, natural resources, agricultural and environmental policy, the economics of innovation.
Research Profile


+ Sara Beckman, Senior Lecturer SOE. Business, innovation, management, product development, operations strategy, environmental supply chain management.
Research Profile

Emeritus Faculty

Clair Brown, Professor Emeritus. Innovation, management, economics, labor, employment, labor market institutions, semi-conductor industry.
Research Profile

S. Leonard Syme, Professor Emeritus. Social epidemiology, community interventions.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Designated Emphasis in Development Engineering

750 Davis Hall

Phone: 510-643-8944

Visit Program Website

Department Chair

Alice Agogino (Mechanical Engineering)

Blum Hall 200E

Department Co-Chair

Matthew Potts (Environmental Science, Policy, and Management)

203a Mulford Hall

Co-Head Graduate Advisor

Clair Brown (Economics)

507 Evans Hall

Phone: 510-643-7090

Co-Head Graduate Advisor

Daniel Fletcher (Bioengineering)

QB3 Institute, 608B Stanley

Phone: 510-643-5624

Program Coordinator

Yael Perez

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Shelley Okimoto

750 Davis Hall

Phone: 510-643-8944

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