Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Challenge
Having won the NSW final, six students from the Engineering Communication subject participated in the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Challenge National Showcase in Melbourne, where they competed against finalists from the other Australian states and New Zealand.
Jessica Alexander, Raven Bakker, Paul Benson, Tamara Nour, Vinayak Shandil and Krystal Tran successfully developed a project entitled Climate Change and Food Security in Timor Leste in response to their 2013 Challenge design brief, based on a set of sustainable community development projects in Timor Leste.
The team presented their project to an audience of peers, academics, engineering professionals and members of the Timor Leste community; demonstrating to the room their understanding of basic engineering principles and theories of human communication.
For Paul Benson, the EWB Challenge was a great opportunity to explore the wide impact small engineering decisions make. “The main thing that I got out of it was the ability to look at engineering problems from the client’s point of view. By using this method, we were able to design something that we felt would make a real impact on the community, by answering their needs,” he said.
Also noting the importance of understanding the client, Jessica Alexander commented, “be it a community with next-to-no money for a project or a multi-million dollar corporation – it doesn’t matter who the client is. You must design something they can understand and use.”
“The other major thing the challenge highlighted for me is that importance of the design brief. I found the challenge quite difficult because the brief was so broad,” Ms Alexander said.
The EWB Challenge program is designed to introduce first year university students to the concept of humanitarian engineering and at UTS; it is completed as part of the subject Engineering Communication.
“From early in their studies, students experience first-hand the role of communication in providing sound and appropriate engineering solutions,” explained Engineering Communication subject coordinator, Sally Inchbold-Busby.
“The EWB Challenge presents students with a real-life engineering problem; this year in the small agricultural village of Codo, Timor Leste. The team identified food security as a primary concern and developed a design solution to suit local needs, taking into account the capacity and resources of the local inhabitants.”
“Presenting in the National Showcase in Melbourne last week allowed our students to share their project with community stakeholders, meet other State winners, and gain a greater understanding of the part they can play in humanitarian engineering efforts,” Ms Inchbold-Busby said.