Engineering should be at the heart of addressing the global challenges of the 21st century.

Our award-winning Engineering for People Design Challenge prepares students, the engineers of the future, to become globally responsible engineers.

Embedded in undergraduate engineering courses, the Engineering for People Design Challenge gives undergraduates the opportunity to learn and practice the ethical, environmental, social and cultural aspects of engineering design. 

How it works

Each year, Engineers Without Borders UK works with one of our partner organisations to produce a series of engineering challenges based on the real-world problems the partner’s community faces.

These challenges span engineering disciplines including water and sanitation, energy, the built environment, transport, waste management, information communications technology and local industry.

Students at participating universities are asked to design a potential solution to one of the challenges appropriate to the economic, social and environmental context in which it will be used.

A mandatory part of the curriculum

Participating institutions run the Engineering for People Design Challenge as part of the engineering curriculum for first and second year undergraduates, making it a mandatory part of the degree course.

The initiative contributes to the Engineering Council requirements for students on accredited degrees to demonstrate understanding of the design process and have a broad awareness of the economic, legal, social, ethical and environmental context of engineering activity.

31 Universities, 6,500 students

The Engineering for People Design Challenge will run at 31 universities across the UK and Ireland this year involving over 6,500.

Since 2011, when it was first launched in the UK in partnership with Engineers Without Borders Australia, the Engineering for People Design Challenge has improved the skills and competencies of over 28,000 undergraduates.

To date, student design ideas have focused on communities in India, Nepal, Cambodia, Australia, Vietnam, Timor Leste, Cameroon and more.

Students who have taken part in the Challenge have said that it helped them discover the human element of engineering; read about Tsanko’s story here.

Register your institution


The Engineering Professors’ Council is delighted to support Engineers Without Borders UK. It offers lots of fantastic, practical ways for our students to use what they’ve learned and demonstrate the unique career paths that a degree in engineering opens up – solving real, practical problems that make transformational differences to people’s lives.

Johnny Rich, Chief Executive – Engineering Professors’ Council



The Engineering for People Design Challenge provides students with a taste of what it is like to be an engineer, requiring them to make links between the core engineering theory that they have studied and the context in which they will be working. The challenge provides real-life opportunities to design solutions that amongst other things, take account of environmental, social and cultural impacts.

Alasdair Coates, CEO – Engineering Council


We were a finalist for the 2017 Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence run by the Higher Education Academy (the HEA). The award recognises and rewards collaborative work that has had a demonstrable impact on teaching and learning.


The Engineering for People Design Challenge is one of 50 Nesta New Radicals 2016. New Radicals is a search led by Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, and The Observer to find the top people, projects and organisations offering innovative ways to tackle social challenges and make Britain and the wider world better.