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What do dangerous goods, 3D printed water tanks and the art of storytelling have in common? Quite a lot – when you view them from a human-centred perspective. That’s what EWB’s University of Western Australian Chapter in partnership with Engineers Australia, did this August. In a rich event collaboration with the UWA Makers and Biomedical Engineering Society student guilds, the ‘Engaging with Human – Centred Engineering’ event showcased engineering as an impactful tool for improving the lives of others.

Unlike many other states across Australia, the event was held in-person and not online, hosted at the University of Western Australia. The event included a panel discussion and two interactive activities, showcasing how human-centred engineering is contributing to positive social outcomes. 

Panel discussion

The panel discussion kicked off the night, with three professionals well-versed in human-centred design, discussing how they use this thinking to make a positive impact on society.

Louis Clarke and Liam Richer, the co-founders of Humanitarian Engineering International Placements (HEIP), began the panel discussion. HEIP is a for-purpose development organisation providing valuable engineering resources across the world. By coordinating workplace opportunities with international humanitarian engineering organisations, participating engineers make a real difference to communities across the world. Partnering with experts in engineering from some of EWB Australia’s international colleagues including EWB Argentina, EWB Chile, and EWB Brazil, HEIP empowers vulnerable communities and inspires engineers for the future.

Liam and Louis were joined by Katie Dunn, a digital strategy consultant for JourneyOne. With a background in business development for human-centred design, Katie shared insights on how to enhance public messaging related to human-centred engineering. Alongside public messaging, Katie evaluates the community impact of business decision making. Frequent evaluation ensures human-centred design remains a centre-focus of organisational strategy, no matter the industry.

With many attendees looking ahead to their professional engineering future, the panellists shared valuable advice for navigating early-career engineering. The panellists shared their experiences transitioning from university to impactful work in the humanitarian engineering sector.

Human-centred engineering leading to real-life solutions 

The medical imaging activity at the EWB UWA x Engineers Australia hackathon event

Participants observing the medical imaging activity

After gaining inspiration from the keynote speakers, attendees were immersed in an hour of activities exploring the importance of human-centred engineering in solving everyday problems.

Activities included a medical imaging workshop run by the Biomedical Engineering Society, and a walk-through using 3D printers to create parts of a water tank, hosted by the UWA Makers, a club that encourages students to get involved in practical engineering and making. 

Alongside the networking opportunity for the attendees with industry professionals, the event highlighted the array of opportunities available to students across a variety of engineering disciplines. 

The opportunities really are endless; whether it be in the volunteering or professional industry sector. EWB’s UWA Chapter is continually welcoming like-minded individuals to join the team that is using technology to benefit all. You can find your local chapter here