Two students from The University of Western Australia determined to highlight the humanitarian and development work done by engineers globally have created the Global Humanitarian Engineering Awards (GHEA) to honour their socially responsible colleagues.
Rebecca Dracup, a 5th year economics and environmental engineering student, and Andrew Perren, a 5th year commerce and civil engineering student, started the awards last year because they found it difficult to find stories about the success of engineering projects in the humanitarian and development sectors.
The awards seek to reward the extraordinary achievements of an engineer and a project that have made a positive difference to the quality of life of disadvantaged communities. This could include providing assistance in areas such as disaster relief, infrastructure, sanitation, poverty alleviation and disability access.
The inaugural awards ceremony - hosted by The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) - will be held next month during the 2013 Global Humanitarian Technology Conference in Silicon Valley, USA.
Two awards will be presented: Global Humanitarian Engineer of the Year and Global Humanitarian Engineering Project of the Year.
Miss Dracup and Mr Perren hope that by celebrating exemplary projects and individuals from around the world, the awards will provide inspiration and role models for young engineers and organisations.
"Engineering plays a huge role in the development sector," Miss Dracup said. "Whether it is helping out with emergency relief or delivering energy and clean water, the skills engineers can provide are in high demand. We wanted to recognise these engineers on a global stage, and share their stories with the wider engineering community."
She said there had been a positive trend towards corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs within the engineering industry in recent years, and organisations were increasingly supporting employees who engaged in pro bono programs.
"With help from the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference and Engineers Without Borders Australia, we hope we have created a platform to showcase positive stories which give young engineers and organisations around the world something to aim for."
The GHEA awards have already received a diverse range of outstanding nominations, which are being judged by an international group of experts.
Miss Dracup is the president of the university chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and this year took part in the EWB's Dialogues on Development Tour in India.
Mr Perren manages a partnership between EWB Australia and the Badjaling Wanderers Aboriginal Corporation in Western Australia.
Find out more about GHEA 2013.