Student Circuit attended the Engineering for People Design Challenge Grand Final

Student Circuit had the pleasure of attending the Engineering for People Design Challenge Grand Final. The challenge tasked students to design practical solutions for real-world problems.

Held in partnership with Engineers Without Borders South Africa and UK, the competition saw 8,000 students across the UK and Ireland take part, with the final 36 pitching their solutions at UCL’s PEARL facility in Dagenham, England.

The Engineering for People Design Challenge aims to encourage students to broaden their awareness of the social, environmental and economic implications of their engineering solutions. Its challenges are framed around the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with this year’s programme partner being the Centre for Appropriate Technology, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander controlled not-for-profit organisation. It exists to support people in regional and remote Australia in the choices their choice to maintain their relationship with country.

We heard pitches from the six finalists:

  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University College Dublin
  • Nottingham Trent University
  • University of Warwick

The winning team was University College Dublin, made up of Jane Fornan, Ian Mayrs, Naioise Taaffe, Eimear Hughes, Eoghan O’Sullivan, Jakub Waisak and Alan O’Donnell.

The team will receive a grand prize of a £2,000 educational bursary.

The team impressed the judges with their concept, ‘Tapatapment’, a water filtration unit designed for water taps, created from bamboo shoots. The device allows people to collect rainwater and easily and quickly clean and filter it.

The objective of the project was to provide the residents of Cape York with clean, filtered water in an affordable and accessible way. this is because water mains treatment centres in Cape York can shut down unexpectedly, causing dirty contaminated water to enter the mains.

The body is made from locally sourced materials, cutting down costs and funding local communities.

The team demonstrated a clear understanding of local needs, and with regards to the environmental context, the use of natural materials to reduce waste was applauded, as was the inclusion of a water metre to help reduce consumption in the area.

The University of the West of England were awarded the Peoples’ Choice Award, voted on by the public, for their vision for the implementation of a food cooling system. The team will receive a £500 educational bursary.

Remaining true to yourself

We also heard an incredible keynote from the fantastic Olivia Sweeney, a chemical engineer with a passion for building a distributive, generative future. Having been awarded 100 Most Influential Women in Engineering by 2019 Inclusive Boards, Olivia is working to promote minority engagement in STEM roles through campaigns such as This is Engineering, Make the Future Live and Woman’s Hour.

Oliva spoke about what it means to be an engineer and remain true to yourself, setting out keyways to achieve this authenticity.

  • Sometimes its just a feeling and its important to learn to trust that
  • Change is okay. Change is good.
  • Its about balance. There is such thing as too much of a good thing.
  • Aiming for being perfect or always being right is a toxic mindset.
  • Learn and grow and continue this outside of academic pursuit.

You can be authentic and set boundaries. The ability to bring your full self to work is seen as a brilliant standard, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Engineering isn’t the most diverse discipline, therefore setting personal boundaries doesn’t mean you aren’t being authentic. Not everyone needs to know your sexual orientation, personal life at home or your deepest goals and desires. Sometimes it might not feel like the right time, day or situation to bring your full self to work. and that’s okay. Some days you will want to, some days you won’t. Go with whatever feels right.

To conclude, Olivia reminded us of the importance of people’s actions today. Afterall, if people acted in the right way to begin with, we wouldn’t be in the current situation on the brink of a climate breakdown. Your difference is of value, and you should let that individuality shine through.

Student Circuit want to award their congratulations once again to all students involved in the Engineering for People Design Challenge, and we can’t wait for next years competition.