Engineers Without Borders Challenge Update

    The Cairns Institute and the TNQ Drought Hub played host to the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Challenge Showcase on December 10. The EWB Challenge design brief is developed based on a set of sustainable development projects identified by EWB Australia with a community-based partner organisation.

    The 2022 ‘EWB Challenge Showcase’ event community-based partner organisation was the Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation. On Country issues were identified by the Dawul Wuru and sent to 11,000 engineering students and teams from 23 participating universities across Australia and New Zealand to share their innovative design ideas back to EWB and Dawul Wuru. The design ideas aimed to enable Yirrganydji people to sustain wellbeing, culture and care for their rainforest and coastal land and sea Country between Cairns and Port Douglas, for the benefit of current and future generations.

    Of the 11,000 students, the top 35 students consisting of 13 teams were selected to showcase their engineering solutions in Cairns. The universities with finalist teams were;

      Charles Darwin University Curtin University Griffith University
      Melbourne Polytechnic RMIT University  Swinburne University of Technology

      Transportable renewable power solutions

    University of Adelaide University of Canterbury 
      University of South Australia University of Technology Sydney University of Western Australia

    There were many innovative solutions showcased that identified solutions to issues experienced by Rangers. One issue is the safe relocation of crocodiles as they have become aware and evade the ranger boats due to noise and vibration. A couple of noise and vibrations solutions were presented. There was also a more environmental and sustainable aquaculture fish trap, renewable power solutions, a couple of mobile applications to provide cultural awareness and knowledge, ways to reduce waste and prevent plastics on the reef and coastline, artefacts-specific storage and display solutions, and various ways and methods to build portable, transportable ranger stations. Dawul Wuru Land and Sea Rangers Brian Singleton and Gavin Singleton were included on the judging panel which had a difficult task selecting the best from the high quality of finalists.

    Showcase Pitch Award: Team with the most outstanding design project pitch during the Showcase went to Griffith University - Catching Kunyarra. The team designed a noise insulating motor cowling that aims to reduce noise and vibrations from crocodile monitoring boat, featuring an insulating layer made from sustainably-sourced sugarcane bagasse.
    Community Partner Award: Team whose project most strongly considers the aspirations of Dawul Wuru and for their traditional Yirrganydji Country went to the University of South Australia – Modular Community Centre. The team designed a transportable and modular flexible meeting space for the Yirrganydji people which can act as a multi-purpose communal space and visitor hub.
    Best Stall Award:Team with the most engaging stall design went to Curtin University who redesigned the boat engine to reduce vibrations caused by crocodile monitoring boats.
    People’s Choice Award: Team that wins the hearts of attendees by receiving the most popular votes went to Charles Darwin University for their Bamboo Tube Pot for mangrove revegetation, and to RMIT University for their Citizen Wildlife Reporting App Industry Reviewer Award: Team with the highest scoring report as determined by our volunteer industry reviewers went to Western Sydney University for their Nursery for cultivating bush tucker.

    This initial education-based collaboration has also opened up opportunities between EWB engineering programs, and Dawul Wuru as they have identified potential pro bono projects that aim to work on through the ‘Engineering on Country’ program, which aims to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to live safely and productively on Country and pursue their community aspirations, through improved access to engineering, technology and infrastructure.

    Prior to the showcase the students were taken on an On-Country tour and had the chance see and learn more about the country and the work and culture of Yirrganydji people.
    Additionally, throughout the showcase event sessions were held with Students and Yirrganydji Rangers to share knowledge and experience. In one session Lomas Amini, a Social Designer from Djahmu Dreaming was also able to contribute and share his experience from his recent visit to Dutch Design Week. The 2023 EWB Challenge will be held in Cambodia and will focus on the village of Pu Ngaol in Mondulkiri province.

    For more information about the showcase challengers of EWB visit https://ewb.org.au/

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