It’s an equation that may seem impossible, with an engineering professor using math to help find a solution for the homeless in Montgomery County, but Raul Ordóñez believes his class is looking for some very real answers. can calculate.
Using differential equations and statistical models, Ordonez’s class – Engineering Systems for the Common Good – will work with Montgomery County Homeless Solutions to analyze changes in the number of people experiencing homelessness in Montgomery County over time and its causes. can be investigated.
“Differential equations allow you to represent things that change over time,” he said. “Since the number of homeless people in Montgomery County changes over time, we can turn the data into a model, and then see which factors affect different things, and how that changes when the factors change. For example, if you spend available resources in a certain way, then there is a possible outcome that we can predict.”
According to Montgomery County Homeless Solutions, in 2021 nearly 4,000 households in Montgomery County experienced homelessness, spent at least one night in a community shelter or slept without shelter.
“What will it take to end chronic homelessness? How many people are returning? How many people have found a permanent destination?” said Kathleen Shanahan, Homeless Solutions Program Coordinator in Montgomery County. “Our use of the data has grown tremendously. We hope the class can come up with models that will allow us to better understand policy impacts and make better use of public resources.”
Ordonez wants his students in his class to see what they learn as engineers go beyond engineering.
Ordóñez, professor of electrical and computer engineering, said, “The common good goes beyond making better phones. Engineering has such a powerful set of techniques and knowledge. Why not apply it to social issues for the betterment of society?” “I hope they gain perspective and see that they are equipped to do more.”
The inspiration for Ordóñez’s square began in his native Ecuador, where the poverty he grew up with left an impression on him.
“I’ve been very fortunate in what I’ve done in my life. I felt a desire to do something, to help in any way I could with the gifts I had, but I didn’t have an outlet,” he said.
Conversations with his wife, a human rights chief and advocate, further boosted Ordóñez. He found his outlet when UD’s School of Engineering made a Human Rights in Engineering minor this year.
His class is a technical elective that additionally fulfills requirements for the minor and the general academic program of the university.
“UD, because of its institutional commitment to the common good, provides a very supportive environment for this type of initiative,” Ordóñez said.
Gul Kramer, dean of the UD School of Engineering, says that Ordóñez epitomizes the brand of engineer the school seeks to develop – “a well-rounded engineer who has brilliant technical skills but with a heart that allows them to spread good through engineering.” Deeply connects to the community for.
“We are fortunate to have Professor Ordóñez to show our students the way.”
To interview Raul Ordóñez, UD professor of electrical and computer engineering, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications, at [email protected] To interview Kathleen Shanahan, Montgomery County Homeless Solutions Program Coordinator, email Reba Chenoweth, Montgomery County Public Information Officer, at [email protected]