Business School Topics
When two UWA Business School students noticed a lack of role models for young engineers aspiring to work in the humanitarian and development sector, they founded the Global Humanitarian Engineering Awards (GHEA).
The newly created awards, which will be presented during the Global Humanitarian Technology Conference in Silicon Valley, California this October, aim to celebrate outstanding contributions to humanitarian engineering by individuals and organisations around the globe.
Economics and environmental engineering student Rebecca Dracup devised the GHEA as part of her learning with the Mickey Sampson Leadership Program, before enlisting the help of Andrew Perren, a commerce and civil engineering student.
Combining their strengths, Rebecca and Andrew worked together to develop each aspect of their project: from the initial strategy and structure to marketing techniques, recruiting and coordinating a group of judges, maintaining webpages, planning the awards night and promotion of the winners-all while utilising limited resources.
"Many aspects of developing the small non-profit initiative were similar to developing a business," Andrew explained. "Our studies at UWA have been extremely beneficial for creating GHEA, especially when planning, marketing and organising the awards."
Rebecca describes being inspired by William Kamkawamba, an unlikely role model who, at the age of 15, used instructions from second-hand high school physics textbooks to build a windmill to power his family home in Malawi. "This is a good example of what I believe engineering is: a means to create physical manifestations of ideas that improve society," she said.
Reflecting this, the awards will be presented in two categories: Global Humanitarian Engineering Project of the Year and Global Humanitarian Engineer of the Year. The winners have been decided by a panel of judges that includes leading academics and experts from various non-government organisations.
Finalists include: iDE Product Development, which makes low-cost agricultural products available to low-income farmers; E-Diagnoser, a wearable wrist watch-like instrument which measures a patient's vital signs and alerts a doctor or relative if a predetermined limit is exceeded; and Live & Learn Environmental Education Cambodia, which is improving sanitation and public health through the development of novel ecological sanitation toilets and home gardens.
In coming years, Rebecca and Andrew hope to expand the awards to include additional categories for researchers and technicians. They are also looking to recruit other motivated UWA students to join their team.
Article by Katrina Mechler.