Our strategic goals
By 2030 we will build a movement of over half a million people, powerful enough to radically transform the culture of engineering.
Our strategy includes three goals that we believe will enable the tipping for globally responsible engineering to be reached.
Goal 1: Inspire
Encourage lifelong, meaningful commitment to globally responsible engineering.
Goal 2: Upskill
Equip the engineering community with the skills and expertise to be globally responsible.
Goal 3: Drive change
Collaborate with organisations to enable globally responsible engineering to become mainstream.
Goal 1: Inspire
The first aim of our strategy is to demonstrate how global responsibility is essential in ensuring a safe and just future for all. We will inspire the engineering community to want to incorporate global responsibility into their day to day practice.
Awareness of the climate crisis has been at an all-time high, but competing crises such as conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic can push it down the agenda. At Engineers Without Borders UK, we realise that with the climate and biodiversity crises becoming ever more pressing, we must do more to make global responsibility an unwavering priority.
From wasteful mining practices to racially biased facial-recognition software, the engineering community must realise that its work too often benefits the few at the expense of our planet’s finite resources.
We need more people to think critically about what engineering is for and focus on how it can be used to balance the needs of people and our planet.
Building on solid foundations
During this Decade of Action, our aim is to inspire 500,000 people to adopt the principles of globally responsible engineering. We will help students, academics, engineers and all in and around engineering to recognise the crucial role they play in challenging current practice and creating positive change.
We are proud of the progress we have made already, reaching tens of thousands of people through educational programmes and volunteer opportunities – but now we must go further.
The Engineering for People Design Challenge and Efficiency for Access Design Challenge have become part of university curriculums and engaged over 50,000 students around the world to think about environmental, cultural and social impacts of their work.
“Students leave the course having a better understanding of sustainability and how they can positively influence decision making in their workplace – we do see it making a huge difference” says Maryam Lamere, Doctoral Researcher and Mechanical Engineering Lecturer at The University of the West of England. “The Design Challenge has become almost indispensable in the curriculum and we plan the course content around it.”
We have also run training series, produced resources and given talks to improve the engineering community’s understanding of globally responsible engineering. This has often involved people from the movement, including our Change Makers, who demonstrate the positive implications of embedding globally responsible practice into their work.
Students, such as Chris Hughes, who now works on cutting emissions in the heritage sector, have learnt globally responsible engineering techniques through one of our university Chapters.
“Through the Birmingham Chapter of Engineers Without Borders UK, I was able to get a whole new view of engineering and how it can be applied with context to communities around the world. It massively opened my eyes…It definitely set me on my current career path” says the former University of Birmingham Chapter President.
In the past, our mission has inspired over 205,400 hours of pro-bono engineering expertise to be provided to globally responsible projects around the world. Others have been inspired to establish their own sustainable project or business.
As we move forward with our new strategy, we will:
- Increase the number of people introduced to a broader understanding of the role of engineering and raise awareness about the pressing need to commit to globally responsible engineering. This will be achieved through our thought pieces, presentations, workshops and campaigns.
- Grow the scale and impact of our in-curriculum design challenges so that even more individuals develop this essential mindset from the start of their career.
- Expand the number and reach of our activities and resources outside of curriculum so that more people can learn about global responsibility, including students, early-mid career professionals, senior leaders, entrepreneurs, innovative thinkers and experts.
Goal 2: Upskill
How we taught and practiced engineering used to change with the needs of society. This evolution has stagnated. In the last three plus decades, university engineering curriculums have remained largely unchanged, and as a result, they are not preparing students to tackle today’s global challenges. Almost half of UK engineering employers say they face a skills gap when it comes to meeting the UK government’s 2050 net-zero goal. This has to change.
We need to see a drastic improvement in competence and confidence to create sustainable and equitable outcomes for all.
What we’ve done so far
We have upskilled more than 53,000 people since 2001. Many students, like Georgia Thompson, have taken part in our Design Challenges, “I first became aware of Engineers Without Borders UK whilst taking part in the Engineering For People Design Challenge at university in Portsmouth. It was the only experience I’ve had to actually design for a completely different community, which was invaluable to me and my development,” says the founder of D-vers-ty, a UK based organisation that is working with engineering and technology businesses to make their working environments more inclusive.
We have shared ideas and examples of good practice through our events, expert panel discussions, our Building and Inspiring Community Leaders training series, and workshops for senior leaders.
What we’ll do next
Over the next decade, we will increase the variety and reach of our work, providing more people with the tools to put global responsibility at the heart of their engineering practice.
Our target is to upskill 250,000 people. We will:
- Develop competency frameworks that build on the principles of global responsibility, providing specific competencies required in engineering practice. These will be designed with the potential to integrate with existing frameworks. Transparent progression pathways will provide a clear roadmap from basic to advanced ability.
- Engage thousands of engineering professionals through one or more of our learning resources, including training programmes, workshops and talks. They’ll expand their knowledge of the likes of the UN SDGs, evidence-based and innovative technologies and approaches, and the impact of engineering on different habitats and community collaboration. Our networks will provide access to expert advice from company leaders and innovative entrepreneurs.
- Through our ever-growing design challenges, Chapters and project-based learning courses, we’ll upskill tens of thousands of university students to be well-rounded, responsible professionals who are able to tackle social and environmental injustice through engineering.
Goal 3: Drive change
If we really want our industry to be motivated by a desire for social and environmental justice, we must recognise the role companies and organisations have to play. They, after all, are the ones who make the critical decisions and shape industry cultures and standards.
People who are committed to positive change often tell us that they meet heavy resistance from others within their organisation. They can only go so far without the resources, expertise, strategy and culture embedded within an organisational structure.
Many engineering companies are currently releasing new sustainability strategies. Without the associated cultural change, these strategies will likely fail; only 7% of engineering companies in the UK with a sustainability strategy say they have the skills needed to fulfil it.
International policies, laws, standards, accreditation schemes aim to hold companies to their responsibility. These alone are not enough.
We want to work with everyone from major corporations to universities and entrepreneurs to help the sector reprioritise, change its culture and enable globally responsible engineering to become mainstream.
Shaking things up
We are already a prominent voice within the sector, working with the likes of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Engineering Council to influence their approach, policy and their interactions with government. We have strategic partnerships with major companies and universities. Our Change Makers campaign has demonstrated how entrepreneurs and innovators are incorporating global responsibility into day to day practice. Over the next decade, we want to significantly expand our influence, persuading numerous organisations to commit to global responsibility.
By collaborating with value-aligned organisations, we will accelerate progress towards the UN SDGs and ensure global responsibility is a strong cultural feature in engineering.
- We’ll support entrepreneurs, innovators and organisations that have a focus on social and environmental justice, exploring everything from mentoring and facilitating peer-to-peer advice to collaborating on specific initiatives.
- There’ll be a renewed emphasis on working with universities and standards bodies to update courses and qualifications so that they align with current and future global challenges.
- We’ll use the strength of our movement and collective voice to advocate that this fresh approach will benefit us all.