Later this year aspiring engineering students from USYD, UNSW, UTS, WSU and MQU attended the Engineers without Borders Humanitarian Engineering Conference at Camp Fletcher, Blue mountains for 3 days and 2 nights full of learning and new experiences. The HEC is an inter-university conference in collaboration of the EWB Chapters of UTS, USYD and UNSW. It was an event filled with surprises, hiking, adventurous workshops, 4 corporate guest speakers, memorable activities, networking opportunities, engineering challenges, fantastic food, and getting to know like-minded students from other universities.
Equipped to make a positive social change, the conference provided students with an avenue to share stories, the latest technological developments and lessons learnt in the industry. With attendees encouraged to incorporate this approach into their everyday actions. The event consisted of a range of interactive and dynamic sessions that engaged students through a variety of presentations, team-based workshops and the collaboration of ideas from various fields and levels of experience.
The Engineers Without Border Journal of Humanitarian Engineering defines humanitarian engineering as applying and developing technology – not to meet a market or financial opportunity – but to address a real human need. It is about serving a disadvantaged community or group, often overlooked by traditional engineering and technology projects. From poverty alleviation to disability access, humanitarian engineering highlights a new approach to developing and implementing technologies.
Lesson #1: It’s not all that bad. Stay optimistic.
Lesson #2: Look beyond just the technical.
Lesson #3: People are the real agents of change.
Sumegha Sehgal is a first-year student studying a Bachelor of Engineering honours majoring in robotics and mechatronics. The world of science and mathematics has always inspired her since childhood because it opens endless possibilities and ways in which we think of the world around us. Her long term goal includes exploring these diverse options while applying my knowledge of Engineering in mechatronics to such fields. She hopes to help other girls in engineering who think it’s not for them and impact communities while providing solutions to their problems.
“Our generation is much more creative and technologically inclined. It’s advancing at a faster rate and dares to question why. While it enjoys the comforts provided by the technology-driven world, it also faces a lot of challenges at the university or the work place. Over 32% of women leave STEM degree programs in college, but having a mentor can change the way they think. As a young person looking forward, it’s quite exciting and thrilling. With a rush of energy in our veins, we have no dearth of time to look for innovation and impact the world. Young students are privileged with lots of facilities provided by the universities or colleges, and it’s their responsibility to make the best of it,” says Sumegha.
“I continue to study as it’s the best way to do Continuing Professional Development for Engineers Australia and the Australian Institute of Building. Next year I am going to Cambodia, on a study tour meets the requirements of Australian university engineering courses that are accredited by Engineers Australia. I am also contemplating for professional development, going to the Philippines and Rome, Italy,” says Daniel.
Daniel Bonatti, SRC Vice President Education (Post Graduate) and the WSU inter-university coordinator for the conference said it took about 6 meetings over two months before and hundreds of emails, to plan and achieve the conference. Saying, “the conference itself was a great opportunity to talk to students in Engineering from other Universities. The guest speakers’ activities and location Hazelbrook Blue Mountains made it a memorable event.”
Upon departure, the group were given a message to remember…
“Do not go because you’ve fallen in love with sustainability. Go because you’ve fallen in with complexity. Don’t go because you want to do something virtuous. Go because you want to do something difficult. Don’t go because you want to talk. Go because you want to listen” (Martin, 2016)