Engineers without Borders Humanitarian Engineering Workshop
Dr Fiona Johnson and other School staff have been involved in a recent expansion of the UNSW – Engineers without Borders (EWB) partnership. The aim of the partnership is to help support the work of EWB with the research expertise of UNSW engineers whilst exposing our students to the opportunities for humanitarian engineering and the activities of EWB overseas and here in Australia.
One of the first activities was a Humanitarian Engineering Workshop run by EWB and held at the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering - to help support academics teaching in these areas. Academics and postgraduates from UNSW, UTS and ANU came together to talk about how best to teach students about humanitarian engineering. An important issue is how the design process should work with local communities at all stages of a project. Understanding the cultural context of a project and the needs of the community were identified as key priorities in the process.
The workshop also provided some background to the EWB challenge for 2014 which is run each year for 10,000 first-year engineering students around the world. This year's challenge is based in the Gorkha region of Nepal. The project partner is a local Non-Government Organisation (NGO) called Nepal Water for Health. Villages in the hills of Nepal are remote and difficult to access and Nepal Water for Health is interested in improving housing, transport and energy supplies. At UNSW, the challenge will be offered to students in ENGG1000 in Semester 1 and 2 and will focus on challenges for the villages in the region in securing reliable water supplies and using appropriate sanitation technologies.