Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB) is a member-based not-for-profit organisation with over 10 years’ experience in creating systemic change through humanitarian engineering. EWB works with established community partnerships domestically and internationally to build technical capacity in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene, renewable energy, information communication technology, small-scale structures and engineering education. It runs a suite of national initiatives in education, training, research and leadership development, complemented by numerous local events delivered by Chapters and Knowledge Hubs (thematic communities of practice).
EWB constantly seeks to find new ways of creating impact through humanitarian engineering and new ways to connect the engineering sector with effective partnerships and projects. EWB continues to be a place for sharing knowledge and experience between communities, organisations and individuals. It is also a place for meeting people, being inspired, having fun and making a difference through humanitarian engineering.
Effective sanitation and waste systems, access to energy and clean drinking water are basic infrastructure and resources that we frequently take for granted in the developed world. Working closely with secondary and tertiary institutions, professional associations, and industry leaders and corporate partners, EWB assists communities to gain access to the knowledge, resources and appropriate technologies they need to live a life of opportunity free from poverty.
Arup has been an avid supporter of (EWB) since 2009. The partnership is based on a mutual interest in sustainable development, environmental responsibility, social purpose and contributing the access of communities in need to engineering skills and expertise they require to improve their quality of life.
For example, the Shipton’s Flat project in Far North Queensland is a collaboration between EWB, the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), Arup and various companies working alongside the local social enterprise Bana Yarralji Bubu Inc to overcome challenges with infrastructure upgrades in their community. This aboriginal community’s vision is to develop a cultural healing centre for the Kuku Nyunkgal people, which includes natural resource management, eco-tourism and drug and alcohol facilities.
The project involves the design and construction of an eco-sensitive Ranger Base including a basic shelter and a water supply. For Arup volunteers, especially first-time visitors to the outback, the experience has been invaluable to their own personal and professional growth and development. A key highlight of the construction process was the two-way knowledge sharing that took place between the aboriginal and non-aboriginal volunteers on the site.
It’s tempting to walk through a village and think “solar power would be great here!” or “why don’t we build some toilets for these people?” – but one of the most important learning for me was that in development, it is really important to drop all our perceptions and agendas.Jillian Robinson, Arup , Sydney
Arup staff have also been involved in providing technical expertise on community projects, participating in local activities and events through EWB’s local chapters throughout Australia, actively contributing to EWB’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships and new initiatives such as the Pro Bono Engineering Initiative, contributing to EWB’s programs, and undertaking EWB’s training and leadership programs.
The Arup-EWB partnership has provided valuable staff engagement opportunities to learn more about humanitarian work in Australia and abroad and also to further strengthen Arup’s commitment to sustainable development throughout the world.