‘Every person deserves humane living conditions’

| February 21, 2017

Emir Ucer takes a personal approach to solving the ergonomic problems facing relocating displaced people

Emir Ucer at the Daily Dose Cafe in LA’s Arts District. Emir is a Humanitarian-Engineer. Photo / George Sampson

Emir Ucer

’17 Bachelors of Science, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Project: Rethinking Refugee Camps

Mission: implementing a sustainable design for refugee camps housing three million displaced Syrians in Turkey to date

I moved to Los Angeles from Istanbul Turkey four years ago to study engineering at USC. My life took a turn when I enrolled in Professor Najmedin Meshkati’s Human Factors In Design course. He showed me how engineering and humanitarian work can go hand in hand. It was in his class that I teamed-up with Stefani Mikov and we both started to think of how we could use our engineering skills to come up with a solution to the current refugee crisis. Stefani and I both come from a country that is the world’s largest host of refugees, about 3 million, with no signs of slowing down. In LA, we’re far removed from their outcry, but every time I go back to Turkey, I witness the trauma these refugees are going through day after day. We started by completely re-thinking the idea of refugee camps. In fact, we don’t even want to think of them as camps, but as communities in transition. Our redesign is ergonomic and humane. Our communities are equipped wth a school, health center, a fire station, a religious center, internal security and multiple markets where people can trade fairly. We use materials readily available in Turkey, borrowing from the architectural designs of ancient domes used in the region for centuries. We’re now taking our design to policy makers and publishing our work in Turkish newspapers as well as international trade journals. As far as we know, no one is looking at this problem through an engineering lens. We hope that one day, people who are fleeing war, or who are internally displaced, will no longer fear the uncertainty of what awaits them on the other side.

In his own words

Listen to find out where Emir and his partner, Stefani Mikov, plan to take their project to next.

My mantra: We’re here to put a dent in the universe

I do what I do because: every person deserves humane living conditions regardless of where they’re from.

Mentor: Professor Najmedin Meshkati

Perfect Day: waking up on the beach, in the afternoon, swinging on a hammock, drink in hand.

Soundtrack to my life: “This Is What You Came For,” Calvin Harris

Greatest failure: when I missed a Bio midterm because I mixed up class time. 15 minutes late! 15 minutes!!

Proudest moment: getting into my dream school. Fight on!

If I weren’t an engineer, I’d be: a 15th century historian

My alarm: a veggie omelet smothered in Wisconsin cheddar

Indulgence: fro-yo

My inspiration: dad

Tools of the trade: PS4, Macbook

My favorite Trojan memory: I feel like it will be my graduation date

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