Australia has a well-developed history within the engineering sector, especially as many of today’s global engineering companies have had their beginnings within the Australian shores. The engineering industry as a whole is one sector that has weathered the financial storm over the past few years, maybe as a result of the sector’s ability to adapt to change or due to their nature of sustainability.

This financial prosperity has allowed engineering companies to give back to the community by providing their talent, expertise, staff and production process for the benefit of sustainability projects for the worldwide community. Projects such as such as the development of sustainable living technology and new offshore engineering processes like wind farms, recycling centres, energy plants and safer mining facilities all have their beginnings within the industry. Engineering companies and experts are now taking this progress one step further – by ensuring the production reaches underdeveloped countries and donating their time and expertise to these efforts.

Tackling global issues

Engineering is one of the few sectors that can actually tackle global issues such as lack of access to basic human needs like water, food and housing. It is, after all, the forethought in new technologies that has helped many countries in the world gain clean, safe running water. One such success story of such altruistic movements is in thanks to the non-profit Engineers Without Borders Australia.

The organization has now been working for over 10 years in helping communities all over the world through education, facilitation of sustainable technologies and creating lasting change through humanitarian engineering. They do this by covering three separate strands of development: Firstly, they educate both local peoples and the young in Australia’s schools and in underdeveloped countries abroad. They address the lack of access for some communities to waste systems, running water, information, communication and technology. Finally they lead this movement by involving like-minded engineers from across the country and donating their time and expertise – it is this bringing together of a wide variety of engineers that has made this project so fruitful to over 100 communities worldwide.

Maintaining and Strengthening Communities

One of the ways in which engineering can give back to the local community is to provide them with safety structures without ruining, destroying or changes the areas heritage sites. A great example of such a project was the construction of a train layover facility in Hamilton, Canada. Put simply, the town needed a safe passage underneath existing train tracks. There was an original tunnel already at the site, built in 1931 and Australian engineering company Ausenco were employed to make the tunnel safe for the hundreds of residents using it. The project ensured that all original art and architectural features were maintained for oncoming generations to enjoy.

Other projects have ensured the safekeeping and sustainability of the land and the community, including establishing a recycling centre in the Niagara region, ensuring clean and safe mining projects in Tasmania and Brazil, and extensive environmental and social impact studies worldwide. The expertise of the Australian engineering companies is constantly sought after in these cases.


Keeping people well in order to keep our communities together

Finally, we look at the work of Australia’s Biomedical Engineers based at Australia’s College of Biomedical Engineering. In theory, it is fairly obvious how biomedical engineers give back: every time we biomedical equipment, we understand that its origins come from the minds and efforts of the biomedical engineers.

However, these engineers are also attempting to give more to the improvement and sustainability of society. The biomedical community of Australia has run extensive campaigns to donate medical equipment to developing countries in need of aid and assistance in establishing healthcare infrastructure.

They have also found that donations received by these countries may be inappropriate for their healthcare system or in many cases, the healthcare staff may be uneducated on how to properly use the equipment. A recent report from Australia’s College of Biomedical Engineering tackled this exact issue, stressing the importance of not just new medical discoveries, but the implementation of up to date medical technologies within third world countries.

The notion that what is really needed across the globe is a biomedical infrastructure that everyone understands is not necessarily new, but it is beginning to be tackled by the engineering community. Incorporating ideas such as making sure that countries are getting the equipment they need and not just surplus from other countries is top of the agenda and something that will become more prevalent over the next few years.