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Frequently Asked Questions and answers are listed below.

Q. Do I have to be an engineer to be part of the EWB Research Challenge?

A. No, you do not have to be an engineer to apply for the EWB Research Challenge. If you feel your background is relevant to the project, then that is all that matters! We are looking for motivated and passionate researchers from all backgrounds. We are not just looking for civil engineers or even those with the highest grades.

Q. Do I have to be a student to be part of the EWB Research Challenge?

A. Researchers participating in the EWB Research Challenge must be a matriculated university student. Being a student provides academic support as well as guidelines and access to resources such as literature, lab equipment and manufacturing ability. Being a student is also an indicator that you have the time required to conduct the research. Applications from non-matriculated researchers will only be considered if the researcher can show they are getting this support from other sources and have the time to conduct the project.

Q. What happens if I don’t get accepted / more than one group applies for the same project?

A. In many instances it will be absolutely fine for more than one group to work on the same project. The only instance when this may not be the case is where the research partner organisation is unable to support more than one group. In this instance, EWB will develop a project in a related field for you to work on. Having an academic supervisor on board is a sign of a strong application. If you are interested in more than one project, please put in an additional application.

Q. What is the role of the academic supervisor? Is it important that I provide one?

A. The role of the academic supervisor may differ at each university but essentially they are there to support you complete your project. This includes administration support, such as ensuring you meet the targets and deadline set by your university, technical support, i.e. providing guidance on how to approach a subject that they have expertise in, as well as skills development, i.e. they might teach you how to write a literature review or form a solid evidence based argument.

As EWB projects can be in an area that is not the primary research interest of the academics, EWB provides additional contextual support as well as training in humanitarian engineering. However, EWB is not a substitute for an academic supervisor.

It is important that before you apply for an EWB topic that you have spoken to an academic supervisor and have them agree to supervise the project. This means that if they have any questions or input on the direction of the project these can be discussed before the project begins. You may apply for a topic without having secured a university supervisor, however you must have one before the project can begin.

Q. Can I apply for more than one project?

A. Yes. On the application form you have the option to select a second preference topic.

Q. Can I conduct an EWB research project on my own or do I have to be part of a group?

A. All of the available research projects can be conducted either by an individual or a group. Only one member of a group needs to submit a project application.

Each EWB research project is a collaboration between students, academics, EWB and a partner organisation working in humanitarian development. Where a project brief mentions ‘the project team’ it is referring to those undertaking the the project weather this is one person or more.

Q. What are the deliverables that need to be submitted to EWB?

A. At the end of your project, EWB requires a final report – in the vast majority of cases this will be a copy of your thesis submitted to your university. In addition to this, EWB requires a copy of any resources developed for the project. For example, this could include a leading practice guide or the design for a new piece of technology. We require a copy so we can ensure our community partners have access to the information that will help improve livelihoods.

In addition to these required deliverables, EWB strongly encourages researchers to prepare and submit a paper for the peer-reviewed Journal of Humanitarian Engineering.

Q. When do I start my EWB research project/what does preferred start date mean?

A. In most cases, your research project will be conducted as part of a final year thesis course, therefore the project starts when your course starts. Of course this is just the official start date, you are welcome to get yourself more acquainted with your subject.

Preferred start date is simply the date when EWB hopes the project team will have begun their research; it is not a date that is set in stone.

Q. Can I conduct an EWB research project over a single semester or are they only full year projects?

A. Unless specifically mentioned in the project brief, all research projects are available as either a 1 semester (6 month) or 2 semester (full year) projects. Some projects may also be suitable for PhD level researchers.

Q. Which research project is most suited to my discipline?

A. Humanitarian engineering is all about applying your engineering problem solving skills in a humanitarian issue. You will need to combine technical knowledge with human centred design skills in order to get the best results. As such, there are no topics that are reserved for those who have a particular field of study. The EWB research topics are instead sorted by thematic area e.g. WASH, energy, shelter etc.

There are so many important factors in choosing a topic that is right for you, discipline and technical knowledge is one, but there is also your background, your motivations, your interests, your life experience which are also important.

Each research topic is also relatively broad and so there may be a component of  a given topic that interests you.

Q. Are there any costs to be paid?

A. The Research Challenge is free to students who attend a university that has an education partnership with EWB. A list of EWB’s university partners can be found on the research project application page. If your university is not a partner, please contact us

Q. Are there still research topics in need of a candidate?

A. On the Research Challenge webpage, topics which are available for application are marked with a green tick. Those that have already been assigned are marked with a red cross. If you are desperate to work on a project that has already been assigned, please contact us.

Q. What if my question isn’t answered here?

A. Please fill out the form below with your question and we will get back to you shortly.