Students win Engineers without Borders design challenge

Leanne Nimmo, Catriona McGeechan, Laura Halliday, Rachel Houston, and Amanda Onaga.

A team of students from the University of Strathclyde will be heading to Mexico after winning a design competition run by Engineers without Borders (EWB).

Leanne Nimmo, Catriona McGeechan, Laura Halliday, Rachel Houston, and Amanda Onaga won the Engineering for People Design Challenge with their design for a water treatment system for a medical centre in Lobitos, Peru.

Their design consists of bio-sand filters and a wind turbine intended to benefit the entire community.

The prize for the team is an all-expenses-paid trip to Mexico to meet with EWB’s partner Caminos de Agua and take part in a sustainable development training course.

The Challenge presents students at partner institutions with real-world problems and asks them to come up with innovative solutions.

It is run as part of the engineering curriculum, and at Strathclyde forms part of the third-year undergraduate programme in Civil and Environmental Engineering, with the best ideas being presented to a panel of judges at a grand final in London.

This year, 35 universities across the UK sent teams to the Grand Final. The Strathclyde team won for having an outstanding design and demonstrating through the poster and oral presentations how well they understood the human element of engineering and incorporated this into their design.    

James Minto, research associate in Civil and Environmental Engineering, said: “I think what set this project above all the others was the level of detail that went into making the design appropriate for the local context.

“The team considered the social aspects and the wider implications these have on ensuring the intervention could be operated and maintained sustainably in the long term.

“This allowed them to propose a design that was both practical and feasible and which would benefit the entire town of Lobitos whilst mitigating or minimising any potential for disruption and negative impacts.”