For the second year in a row, first-year engineering students from The University of Western Australia have triumphed in the Engineers Without Borders Australia Challenge.
UWA received Overall Champion Team Award for its design of a sustainable and effective engineering solution development to a real world problem for disadvantaged communities living on the Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia.
The UWA champion team included students Rhys Daniel, Louise Minchin, Martin Kalkhoven, Robbie Révy, Patrick Donnelly and Ian Azaro.
Their project was designed to reduce biological wastes being returned to the Tonle Sap Lake, by producing biogas and organic fertiliser as products to improve the economic and health conditions for the people living on the lake.
The Engineers Without Borders Challenge is an international design program for first year university students. The program aims to develop students' learning experiences through a team-based design approach using inspirational sustainable development projects.
This year a record 7,491 first year engineering students from 26 universities in Australia and New Zealand participated in the challenge, with 24 universities submitting 74 reports. As a key component of the UWA common first year engineering unit, ‘Introduction to Professional Engineering', the Challenge is used as the vehicle for developing the students' project management, communication and team skills.
This year's Challenge was based on using problem solving and design skills to support the development of disadvantaged communities living on the Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia. Students worked in groups of six to propose a researched (and ideally prototyped) solution, producing a number of written reports and presenting their findings.
UWA submitted four reports to the EWB Challenge judges covering topics such as biodigestion in Cambodia, a solar tyre cooker ‘a substitute for the stove', menstrual hygiene management on the Tonle Sap; and housing and built infrastructure: a composite material on the Tonle Sap Lake.
UWA Associate Lecturer Chris Rowles, coordinator of the Introduction to Professional Engineering, acknowledged the dedication and collaborative spirit of the winning team as well as support from tutors, including staff from the UWA Student Services ‘StudySmart' program, Siri Barrett-Lennard and Sophie Sunderland.
"Members of the local chapter of Engineers Without Borders, the Faculty's Associate Dean (First Year), Yola Szymakowski and the team's tutor, John Verran, a member of the successful UWA 2008 EWB Challenge team, all played a part in guiding the students to success," Mr Rowles said.
UWA's successful team will travel to Cambodia and work with Live and Learn Environmental Education (Live and Learn http://www.livelearn.org/) to investigate ways of implementing their design.