During a pivotal moment in an undergraduate student’s career, the Engineering for People Design Challenge 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 South Africa, Cameroon, the UK, Ireland and the USA, to over 60,000 students.

Benefits for students:

By taking part in the challenge, students will:

  • Gain an understanding of their role in the engineering community.
  • Learn to consider the consequences of design decisions at both local and global levels.
  • Learn how engineering underpins everyday life.
  • Learn how to place people at the heart of their designs.
  • Develop their engineering skills.
  • Develop skills in communication, planning and project management, effective distribution of work and collaboration.

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Participating in the Engineering for People Design Challenge?

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Each year, we work with one of our partners to create a series of engineering briefs based on real-world problems that people in their country are facing.

These briefs span engineering topics 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 solution appropriate to the economic, environmental and social context.

The best teams from each of the participating universities are invited to a grand final. They showcase their ideas to their peers, academics, industry representatives and a panel of expert judges and compete to be crowned Engineering for People design challenge winners.

Part of the curriculum

Participating institutions 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 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

University guide

What to find out more? Download the full university guide to find out about participating in the Engineering for People Design Challenge.


What people say

“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, chief executive, Engineering Council

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

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

“Go back to your universities and your friends who aren’t doing this course and ask them ‘why not?'”

Jon Prichard, chief executive of the Institution for Chemical Engineers and former chief executive, Engineering Council

Register your institution

Universities in South Africa: [email protected]

Universities in UK and Ireland: [email protected]

Universities in USA: [email protected]