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Welcome from the Director

Law, Policy and Engineering Initiative

Interdisciplinary Education and Research at the Forefront of Societal Need

Welcome to Penn State’s Law, Policy and Engineering initiative. As the inaugural director of this interdisciplinary initiative across Penn State Law at University Park, the College of Engineering, and the School of International Affairs I am excited to welcome students, faculty, alumni, and friends of Penn State interested in participating and supporting the Law, Policy, and Engineering initiative (LPE).

LPE is an innovative platform that will enable the emergence of the next generation of interdisciplinary leaders prepared to address societal change and the rapid progress of technology and globalization. Through LPE, new academic offerings and interdisciplinary research opportunities at the intersection of law, policy, and engineering will be made available to students, such as the Policy Innovation Lab of Tomorrow. LPE will foster interdisciplinary research among all three disciplines to enable a better understanding of the societal impact of emerging technologies and the interdependence between policy, law, engineering, science, and technology. 

LPE is built on three core principles:

  • Technical and academic rigor,
  • Fluency across disciplines, and
  • Interdisciplinary understanding of the convergence between policy, law, and engineering.

It’s an exciting time in higher education, government, industry, and society in general. We have at our reach technological advances that touch upon every aspect of our lives including our home, education, health, transportation, and businesses, among others. Data access and analysis surrounds us, impacting every profession. Emerging technologies* such as artificial intelligence, DNA data storage, bioplastics, smart fertilizers, new protein inhibitors for cancer and Alzheimer's treatment, collaborative telepresence, advanced manufacturing and material tracking systems, innovative nuclear reactors with resilient fuels, utility-scale energy storage, flat metalenses, social robots, and many more; are developing at such speed bringing forth unprecedented societal changes with many political, ethical, economic, legal and social implications.

Nevertheless, despite these technological advances, society continues to have pressing-problems such as those described by the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges for Engineering, or the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. These challenges are characterized by multi-stakeholder engagements with complex, global interdependencies that require be examined from a systemic, holistic, comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach, such as the LPE platform where policy and law inform and are informed by engineering, science, and technology. 

LPE will cultivate the next generation of engineers versed and fluent in policy and law, the next generation of global policy leaders versed and fluent in law and technology, as well as the next generation of lawyers, versed and fluent in policy and technology. Welcome to LPE!

*Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2019 - Scientific American, December 1, 2019

  • Sandra Allain
  • Director of the Law, Policy, and Engineering initiative 
  • Professor of Practice


The Law, Policy, and Engineering (LPE) initiative is an interdisciplinary academic and research initiative between Penn State's College of Engineering, Penn State Law, and Penn State's School of International Affairs. The initiative will provide a transformative educational experience for students by actively integrating components of all three disciplines into the curriculum to prepare students for the competitive, interdisciplinary, global workplaces of the future. 

Law, Policy, and Engineering Initiative

The Pennsylvania State University

157 Hammond Building

University Park, PA 16802