The Global Engineering Challenge

What challenges will you face as a professional engineer? How will your decisions impact on the people around you and throughout the world? How will you promote and defend your projects?

In order to tackle the Engineering challenges of the 21st century, it is important to possess teamwork, design, problem-solving, communication skills and global awareness, as well as technical knowledge. The aim of the Sheffield University Global Engineering Challenge Week is to introduce and develop these transferable skills highly valued by employers through a cross-faculty group project.

A number of projects are based on the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Challenge projects. In past years these projects have been based in, India, Vietnam, East Timor, Nepal, Cameroon and Kenya. This year they are in Tamil Nadu in India.

We also work with Dr John Quinn and Dr Mike Smith, both academics at the University of Makerere in Uganda. John further works as a Data Scientist at the United Nations Global Pulse Lab in Kampala. They have suggested projects, and provided they are appropriate, they complement those provided by EWB. These are indicated by a yellow background.

Whichever project you do, some elements may not fit directly with your degree discipline, but the goal is to enable you to broaden your skills and knowledge, work alongside students from a range of other disciplines and think outside your specialisation. The projects also have many features common to mainstream engineering projects:

  • All engineering projects are intended to make people’s lives better, so your ultimate goal is to satisfy the people who will use the product.
  • All engineering projects have constraints imposed by external context, such as cost, environment, time, availability of resources, legislation etc.
  • All engineering projects involve investigating, evaluating, applying technical knowledge, judgement, communication etc.

You will select your preferred projects in advance of the week and on the basis of this information, together with the need to have multidisciplinary groups, you will be told your project and group in advance of the week. When you first meet your group, you will be lead through activities that help you get going on engineering a solution. The project briefs concern the sustainable development of disadvantaged communities whilst raising questions about key 21st century issues: globalisation, climate change, sustainability and equality – the “Global Dimension”.

Through the week your team will compile a report which has to be completed by 8am on the Friday. This will be marked by your facilitator and the mark adjusted by peer-review. On Friday afternoon you will also present your solution* to the other students, facilitator and staff member in your hub in an interesting, engaging and informative way, aiming to show that you:

  • have considered the needs and perspectives of the community;
  • have followed a suitable design process: identified design criteria, researched and identified a range of solutions, evaluated options against these criteria and recommended the most appropriate solution;
  • have considered sustainable development requirements in your solution development: social, environmental and economic impacts and benefits;
  • can communicate your solutions effectively and appropriately to an audience.

The presentation will be assessed by peer review on:

  • the effectiveness of your presentation
  • the appropriateness of your proposed solution*

There will be a prize for the best communicated solution in each Hub!

Where the team’s Report and Presentation are marked as a distinction and provided the team members have contributed fully, then members will be awarded a distinction.

* It is not expected that groups will develop a full technical solution or design to ‘solve’ the problem as there will not be enough time in the week.  Instead, you should research existing solutions and produce outline ideas / solutions showing consideration of, and adaptation to the wider social, ethical and sustainability issues associated with the community.