Shaping tomorrow's engineers

Engineers are increasingly required to work at the forefront of social and environmental challenges. Despite this, 76% of UK engineering firms acknowledge a skills gap in sustainable practices (IET, 2023). The Engineering for People Design Challenge, a flagship initiative by Engineers Without Borders UK and South Africa, addresses this gap by empowering the next generation of engineers with the skills and insights needed for globally responsible engineering.

Since its inception in 2011, the Design Challenge has reached over 87,000 students across 47 universities in five countries.

Discover the impact

Real-world challenges

Aligned with UNESCO’s call for greater complexity in engineering education, the Design Challenge uses project-based learning to immerse students in real-world contexts within a safe environment. Students work collaboratively to propose sustainable solutions addressing engineering issues within a specific geographic context, enabling them to develop crucial skills, including collaborative problem-solving, ethical decision-making, cultural sensitivity, and community engagement.

Every year, we work in collaboration with a community partner to produce a design brief that is shaped by insights and reflections from interviews with the local community in this context. Previous partners have included EcoSwell in Peru, the Centre for Appropriate Technology in Australia, Govan Community Project in Scotland and Engineers Without Borders Australia’s Cambodia team.

This year, we are delighted to be partnering with Makers Valley in South Africa. Register your interest here!

Part of the curriculum

We work with educators to run the Engineering for People Design Challenge as part of the curriculum for first and second year undergraduates, making it a mandatory part of the degree course.

In the UK, the programme contributes to the Engineering Council Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes (i.e. AHEP4) by requiring multidisciplinary teams of students to demonstrate an understanding of the design process, develop technical skills and broaden their awareness of the impacts of engineering.

With ready-made materials and a powerful learning community, the Design Challenge is highly valued by educators for its ease of implementation. 

The competition

The Design Challenge culminates in a prestigious Grand Finals event attended by industry leaders and individuals linked to our community partner, where teams present their solutions and showcase their ability to balance technical prowess with societal and environmental considerations. 

Get a taste of the Grand Finals –

Start your journey today

If you are an educator, student or a potential partner, we would love to share more information about this impactful programme.

Download our information pack or get in touch at [email protected].

Register your interest for 2024/25

Hear from those involved

“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.”

Alasdair Coates, Former Chief Executive of the Engineering Council

"Through participating, I improved and honed my team-building and communication skills. I developed in-depth knowledge of the design process and better understood the role of engineers."

Participating student

"The Engineering Professors' Council is delighted to support Engineers Without Borders UK. It offers lots of 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, CEO of the Engineering Professors' Council

"As attested by our students, it is a truly motivating and eye-opening experience that builds their confidence as engineers. The Design Challenge allows students to delve into a particular interest, and the designs are not limited to a specific field of engineering."

Educator from the University of Nevada, USA

"Go back to your universities and your friends who aren't doing this course and ask them 'why not?'"

Jon Prichard, former CEO of IChemE and former CEO of the Engineering Council

With thanks to our partners

Transformative solutions from tomorrow’s engineers

A look at the inspirational solutions from the 2023/24 Engineering for People Design Challenge UK and Ireland winners.

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Engineering for People Design Challenge heads to rural Cambodia

As the Engineering for People Design Challenge enters its thirteenth year, learn more about this year’s design brief, set in a rural village in Cambodia.

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Crucial, not soft skills

With research indicating a major skills gap in engineering, Dr Jonathan Truslove investigates how we can ensure current and future workforces are equipped with the crucial skills required to meet global challenges.

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