DAY 2 – Tuesday 3 May – 11:15-12:45
Swiss Tech | Room 1B | Level Garden
Shaukat Ali Mirza
Engineers without Borders, India
Shaukat Mirza is the Chairman of EWB India since April 2014 and has been instrumental in catering to the needs of under privileged members of the society in the areas of sanitation, water management, power (solar) and education. Formerly the President of American University of Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, Dr. Mirza was also instrumental in establishing George Mason University Ras Al Khaimah Campus and RAK Medical and Health Sciences University in UAE. He has also held several important positions in Switzerland, USA and in India.
It has been calculated that almost two billion additional people will inhabit the Earth within the next two decades. This population growth will create unprecedented demands for energy, food, land, water, transportation, materials, waste disposal, health care, environmental clean-up, telecommunications, and infrastructure. In view of the problems faced by our planet today and the difficulties that are expected in the next few years, the engineering profession must revisit its mindset and adopt a new mission statement: to contribute to the building of a more sustainable, stable, and equitable world.
An issue of equal importance is the education of engineers interested in addressing problems which are specific to developing communities. These include water supply and purification, sanitation, power production, shelter, site planning, infrastructure, food production and distribution, and communication, among many others. Unfortunately, such problems are not usually addressed in engineering curricula hence engineers are unable to tackle the needs of the most destitute people on our planet.
Engineers of the future must be trained to take intelligent decisions that protect and enhance the quality of life on Earth rather than endangering it. Preparing students to become global engineers able to facilitate sustainable development is a formidable challenge.
This session will focus on several important issues ranging from social entrepreneurship to innovation in the construction sector, from sustainable housing in the Himalayas to connecting scientists and high school students in Latin America and so on. Faculty and professional engineers will present their research output on sustainable development. They will thus join engineering graduates, faculty interested in teaching Global Engineering, NGOs who can be instrumental in bringing about social change, and private sector representatives in interacting and defining the hurdles that still need to be overcome in implementing Global Engineering.
Ricardo Corredor-Jerez, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, iNVESTIGA: Connecting the Colombian Scientific Diaspora with Secondary Schools in Colombia [PDF Full Paper]
According to recent studies, Latin America is the region with the highest emigration rate in the world, specially affecting the highly educated population. One of the consequences of this process is the expansion of business and scientific diasporas. Colombia has launched multiple projects trying to keep contact with its scientists working abroad, but those initiatives have suffered multiple economic and political limitations. Additionally, technology did not support correctly the processes that could help the diaspora to contribute to projects from their country of residence. However, Internet nowadays allows synchronous communication providing new interactive tools to connect people. In this work we present iNVESTIGA, a project connecting the Colombian scientific diaspora with secondary schools in Colombia using technological resources. We highlight multiple advantages, e.g. increasing students’ eagerness for learning, teachers’ willingness for presenting innovative materials to their students using technology, and allowing scientists to contribute to projects in their home country. We present the results of three videoconferencing sessions connecting Colombian scientists with secondary schools in Yopal, Colombia. A posterior analysis of these experiences showed that current technologies support this interaction between partners in spite of the physical distance, with great benefits for students, teachers and scientists.
Eric Domon, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, Sustainable Housing for Himalayas: Adaptation of Traditional Construction Techniques Through Low-tech Innovations [PDF Full Paper]
The reflections behind this project are based on the fact that emerging countries are generally already living with a small environmental footprint comparing to our developed societies. Considering sustainability at a systemic level, this project aims to adapt traditional construction techniques to the future challenges through locally available and affordable technologies. The goal is to provide to the local population of the Himalayas tools to value their sustainable lifestyles while increasing their comfort conditions. Low-tech innovation is essential to address global challenges. According to local tradition and customs, innovation in design and building techniques are collaboratively developed by an interdisciplinary group of Swiss engineers and architects with local architects and building companies. The project proposes for example to use compressed earth blocks instead of concrete blocks or solar radiation instead of fossil fuels for ecological and economical purposes. To maximize the social anchorage, participative approaches are used at every step to confirm that the design choices correspond to the expectations and cultural habits of the future users. The first building will grow near a school and is supposed to be used as an example for the villagers of the surroundings. Several didactical activities for the children of the school and their parents will happen during the construction to diffuse and raise awareness about building’s energy efficiency. The extended abstract details the main low-tech innovations that are implemented to improve traditional Zanskari’s housing.
Antonio de Padua Lima Filho, UNESP, Brazil, Manufacturing Hand Bikes Using Recycled Bicycle Parts [PDF Full Paper]
Hand bikes made from recycled aluminium and steel bicycle parts were produced for physically disabled people with limited financial means, which encouraged accessibility, sport and social inclusion through self-mobility on the roads. Therefore, this work aims to combine environmental and social responsibility. Volunteers with varying degrees of physical disabilities, e.g., alcoholic neuropathy, amputation of one and two legs, spinal injury, cerebral tumour on the right side of the brain, paraplegia not specified and femoral arthralgia, agreed to test the tricycles to provide important information for the designers. The hand bikes were designed to be safe, ergonomically efficient, light-weight, and aesthetically pleasing and were ultimately donated. The intention here is to encourage the reproduction of hand bikes anywhere of the world at a reduced cost. One donated hand bike was modified by a hemiplegic volunteer to improve the drivability and give feedback for the team, and some bikes that were badly damaged during use, were recovered, fitted and donated again. These important issues are also outlined in this work. A hand bike moving with assistance from a brushless electric motor is shown here as future research. This study was supported though the Project of University Extension from Pro-Rectory of University Extension (Proex) at São Paulo State University – UNESP – Brazil with participation of the mechanical engineering students at the Discipline of Selection and Specification of the Materials.
Vasudevan Rajaram, IIG Sustainable Cities, United States, Social Entrepreneurship and Engineering Education as a Means of Sustainable Development [PDF Full Paper]
Failed development engineering projects, increased demands for basic services, and the new SDGs motivate a critical need for transitions from donor funds to self-reliance using entrepreneurial approaches to sustainable development. Social entrepreneurship can be defined as a business that addresses the social needs of society while being financially and environmentally sustainable. There are many engineers acting as social entrepreneurs (SEs) around the world in order to solve increasingly complex problems of water, energy, food, education, housing, health and other pressing social issues. Efforts vary from working with small to large organizations and from single to multiple service areas, with these engineers and SEs bringing together diverse resources toward lasting systems-based solutions, in partnership with local communities. These SEs are not only building on access to knowledge, networks, and capital, but also continuously reflecting and learning to develop locally and globally-relevant skills. They are shaping and accelerating the use of multiple community innovations, designing new appropriate technologies and policies, and creating new practices and processes that can improve society and transform communities. With entrepreneurship and innovation as key drivers of human progress towards sustainable development, engineers and SEs need to be trained and supported so they are effective in bringing about required changes in society and improving quality of life for all. Many engineering departments at universities are now building curriculum and programs in these areas and this paper highlights a handful of these programs across the US and India. We identify and describe recently evolving educational programs in terms of proposed skills, competencies, and knowledge that can prove useful in real-world projects and ventures. The development impact that SEs in these engineering and interdisciplinary programs are having will be detailed. Recommendations for expanding such programs in engineering and business schools will be made, and the need for role models to guide the new generation of social entrepreneurs will be described.
Harry O. Sandberg, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, Progressive Housing with Permanent Core Dwelling resistant to Natural Hazards [PDF Full Paper]
The present situation with an accelerating population growth worldwide will generate unprecedented demands on several crucial supply factors including shelter, especially in developing and underdeveloped countries. And as many of these countries are regularly exposed to natural hazards that frequently turn into disasters, this project has identified as a logic consequence to focus the research on securitising the habitat. A safe habitat in these countries is of fundamental importance and necessity to allow for a dynamic growth of the grass-root and full economies. And economic strength is of major importance to solve other crucial supply problems. The objective of this ongoing research project is to propose architectural and technical solutions for quality guaranteed, new or re-construction by first building a natural hazard resistant core dwelling using recycled 20ft ISO shipping containers, then integrating the core in a progressive owner-driven housing structure. N.B. it is not concerning container architecture/housing using containers as final residential volumes. The project demonstrates the architectural, structural and risk reduction potential of this solution. Full attention is paid to blend in the structure with the existing culture, and vernacular and prevailing local architecture. The project phases follow an evolution/feed-back system of Feasibility ⇔ Implementability ⇔ Adoptability ⇔ Acceptability that will minimize the risks of output repellence. The paper presents the state of progress of the research project, which deals with the production of first concepts, the outcomes of workshops held at EPFL, in India, in Malaysia about architectural and technical solutions, as well as structural tests on containers with unreinforced openings. A truly interdisciplinary and international project. The research is implemented in international collaboration between interdisciplinary teams at three universities, whereof two in South-Asian natural-disaster-ridden developing countries with different cultural profiles. Interdisciplinary-humanitarian student projects. In connection with the research work, the topic is also proposed to undergraduate students as projects at the participating academic institutions.