Engineering for Humanity

In April 2009, the CoEI at NUIG initiated a pilot programme with the Alan Kerins Projects to give our undergraduate students the opportunity to work in developing countries as part of their academic courses through the Professional Engineering Programme (PEP). This was expanded in 2011, where another partnership was established with Foundation Nepal allowing our students to complete their work placement in a remote region of Nepal called Humla.  The students apply for these opportunities and have to undertaken a competitive process to get selected, including a formal interview.

The project is divided in three phases – 7 weeks on campus completing initial training, followed by 8 weeks in Zambia or Nepal and then the students can complete their final year project on a related topic to their placement. This project and some of the other initiatives in the College of Engineering & Informatics indicate potential areas where ethical, globally aware, civically engaged and socially responsible engineering education can flourish. Furthermore, they have led to a number of postgraduate research projects being undertaken in NUI Galway. One of our researchers, Declan Gavigan, recently received an award for the Best Young Engineer’s paper at the annual peer-reviewed International Conference of the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE)) in Egypt. NUIG are actively seeking funding to allow them to implement further related research projects.

Students are chosen for this programme based on a competitive interview process. Students receive a conditional offer for a position on a programme provided that they fulfil all the requirements set out. They must complete pre-departure training and preparation and submit the signed pre-departure form containing information such as contact details, travel itinerary, health insurance, pre departure medical examination, immunizations received, pre-departure training, and so on.

There are a number of undergraduate degree programmes in NUI Galway during which students work in developing countries and obtain credits towards their degree. Dr. Jamie Goggins, College of Engineering & Informatics, has worked with the colleagues in the School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Midwifery, CKI and the International Office to introduce multidisciplinary pre-departure training in NUI Galway for these students. Further specific technical training is given to students partaking in the elective programme entitled ‘Engineering for Humanity’ prior to working in the field in developing countries. These students are based on campus in NUI Galway for up to eight weeks prior to working in the field. The students undertake laboratory-based work and research projects, as well as receiving courses on cultural awareness, security, child protection, and issues in global development. Example projects completed during the Engineering for Humanity programme are given here.