Last week, our flagship programme – the Engineering for People Design Challenge – came to a head at the UK and Ireland Grand Finals. 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 over 70,000 students.

Each year, we work with a programme partner to create a design brief based on real-world challenges that people in their community are facing, which are framed around the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This year’s programme partner is the Govan Community Project, a community-based organisation working in south-west Glasgow to achieve social justice in the Greater Govan area by building a strong community based on equality, mutual respect, support, and integration.

Over 8,500 participants from across the UK and Ireland took on the challenge. Their solutions were reviewed by over 200 volunteer reviewers, through which the top 36 teams were selected and invited to join us for the Grand Finals where they pitched their ideas to this year’s judges. This process whittled the number of teams down to six, who pitched to over 150 participants in attendance at the event, as well as a judging panel comprised of industry leaders and representatives from our community partner.

Delivered in partnership with:

Throughout the day, students and educators participated in workshops exploring 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 Govan Community Project, about the importance of designing with communities. Toni McLaughlin, a third-year student at the University of Glasgow, also joined us to share her experience of driving change at university as an Engineers Without Borders UK Student Champion and former President of EWB Glasgow.


The winning team from the University of Greenwich receiving their certificate from Helena Barrett, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Engineers Without Borders UK.


In addition to awarding first and second prizes, the competition also includes 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.

With their innovative design for a hydroelectrically-powered greenhouse space, the team from Manchester Metropolitan University secured second prize. 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.

Beating tough competition, the winning team from the University of Greenwich impressed the judges with their concept: ‘Health Pod’, which aims to tackle food insecurity and inaccessibility to healthcare in Govan. The winners receive a Grand Prize of a £1000 educational bursary.

Tom Whitehead, Programme Activities Coordinator for Engineers Without Borders UK, commented: “This project perfectly represented the ethos of the design challenge. 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.”

You can explore all of the top designs on CrowdSolve.


Visualisations of the ‘Health Pod’, developed by the student team at the University of Greenwich.


We are extremely grateful to everyone who has contributed to the delivery of this year’s Engineering for People Design Challenge, which includes the educators who deliver this programme in universities, the volunteers who gave up their time to share their invaluable feedback and help to deliver the Grand Finals event, the judges who provided insightful feedback and assessment on the day, the speakers who inspired, and our partners, without whom this programme would not have the global impact it does.

Learn more about the Engineering for People Design Challenge.