All female team win the Grand Prize!

18th June 2019

The Grand Prize goes to an innovative design for a women’s community hub built of locally sourced natural and affordable materials

Last Friday we celebrated the Grand Finals of the 2018/2019 Engineering for People Design Challenge at the IET in London. The annual competition, organised by Engineers Without Borders UK, engages university students to consider the importance of ethical, culturally sensitive and appropriate engineering.

Over 6,500 first and second year students from universities across the UK and Ireland took part in the competition. Following a strict shortlisting process the top 37 teams were invited to present their ideas to a panel of expert judges in a bid to win a £2,000 educational bursary.

This year’s brief focused on the communities located in Tamil Nadu in India, where the vast majority of people still live in rural areas where the population is steadily increasing. Students were challenged to rethink rural life and propose interventions that underpin aspirational lifestyles and address the impacts of poor water and sanitation provision, a lack of waste management, limited transport and digital infrastructure and unreliable energy provision.

The finalists presented a wide range of creative solutions that had potential to really benefit the rural and urban communities. Interestingly, this year both the winner as well and the runner up had put improving women’s welfare to the heart of their designs.

The winning team, second year civil engineering students from Leeds Beckett University, impressed judges with their comprehensive approach to the challenges outlined in the brief and commitment to developing a solution that would eventually benefit the whole community. They wanted to empower women by designing a community hub, where women could spend time and learn new skills in a safe environment. The building materials for the hub, including bamboo and reinforced rammed earth bricks, were affordable and easy to source locally and the team had even tested them in practice during the design phase to ensure their suitability.

The second place went to a team of Product Design students from Nottingham Trent University for their hygienic and affordable sanitary towel, SafeSpot. The discreet device was designed to be affordable and easy to sterilise, so that girls would not have to miss school during their periods because of the cultural and societal stigma attached to menstruation.

All attendees were also invited to nominate their favourite innovation for a ‘People’s Prize’, which saw the award go to a team from Heriot-Watt University for EcoPit, an improved version of the traditional cooking stove designed to eliminate smoke to reduce pollution.

The level of entries was very high this year and the ideas shared in the Grand Finals had real potential to make a positive impact on people’s lives. Congratulations to all finalists!

We would also like to thank the sponsors, expert judges and academics for their ongoing support. This year more than 200 people from over 30 countries volunteered to review the students’ proposals during the selection process which shows that people across industries recognise the importance of developing global responsibility in engineering.

Following eight successful years in the UK and Ireland reaching 34,500 students, the Engineering for People Design Challenge is set to reach wider international audiences in its next instalment. The 2019/2020 competition will see us join forces with the Engineers Without Borders team in South Africa to set a brief that will invite students to use their engineering skillset for the benefit of an urban community in Johannesburg. What’s more, Engineers Without Borders USA will also pilot the competition, enabling US students to participate in the competition for the first time ever.

Watch this space for more information about the launch of the 2019/2020 Engineering for People Challenge and ways to get involved.

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Comment (1)

Peter Hill

26 June 2019
Will the winning entry be posted on line as an example of the sort of standard that can be achieved?