Engineers Without Borders has announced the UK and Ireland winners of its flagship Engineering for People Design Challenge.
The challenge, delivered during a pivotal moment in an undergraduate student’s career, encourages individuals to broaden their awareness of the social, environmental and economic implications of their engineering solutions. Since 2011, the design challenge has been delivered in Cameroon, South Africa, the UK and Ireland, and the USA to more than 70,000 students.
Each year, Engineers Without Borders works with a programme partner to create a design brief based on real-world challenges that people in its community are facing, which are framed around the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This year’s programme partner was the Govan Community Project, a community-based organisation working in southwest Glasgow to achieve social justice in the Greater Govan area by building a strong community based on equality, mutual respect, support and integration.
More than 8,500 participants from across the UK and Ireland took part in the challenge. Their solutions were reviewed by more than 200 volunteer reviewers. The top 36 teams were invited to attend the grand finals, held at the Strathclyde Technology and Innovation Centre in Glasgow, where they pitched their ideas to a judging panel (picured below viewing posterboards) comprised of industry leaders and representatives from the competition’s community partner. This process whittled the number of teams down to six, who pitched to more than 150 participants in attendance at the event, as well as the judging panel.
Throughout the day, students and educators participated in workshops that explored what engineering could look like in 2030 and the changes required in curricula to ensure that emerging engineers are equipped to tackle global challenges. Attendees also heard from Traci Kirkland, head of charity for the Govan Community Project, about the importance of designing with communities. Toni McLaughlin (pictured below), a third-year student at the University of Glasgow, also shared her experience of driving change at university as an Engineers Without Borders UK Student Champion and former president of EWB Glasgow.
In addition to awarding first and second prizes, the competition also included a public vote: the People’s Prize. This provides all top 36 teams with the opportunity to promote their idea across their networks. This year’s People’s Prize was awarded to students from Nottingham Trent University for their design to implement aeroponics (a smart-farming technique) using shipping containers.
The team from Manchester Metropolitan University secured second prize thanks to its innovative design for a hydroelectrically powered greenhouse space. The judges praised the team’s consideration of the local geography in the development of the design and particularly liked that the team had given thought to how food could be distributed to the community using e-bikes.
The winning team from the University of Greenwich (pictured at top) impressed the judges with its concept for the Health Pod, which is aimed at tackling food insecurity and inaccessibility to healthcare in Govan. The winners received a grand prize of a £1,000 educational bursary.
‘This project perfectly represented the ethos of the design challenge,’ said Tom Whitehead, programme activities coordinator for Engineers Without Borders UK. ‘The team considered how one space could be used to meet multiple challenges facing the area, giving great thought to the needs of the diverse community in Govan.’
Learn more about the Engineering for People Design Challenge here.