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Thanks for being part of the EWB University Research Program, I hope you are ready to help us engineer a better world through your research. I am sure you are eager to get started, this page will provide you with the information you need to begin your journey and get your research started.

First Steps Checklist

  • Meet with your academic supervisor to talk through your approach for the research
  • Read my top tips on how to start your project


Intellectual Property, Confidentiality Agreement & Fieldwork Request

In order for you to be part of EWB's University Research Program you will need to complete our Intellectual Property and Confidentiality Agreement. If you are unfamiliar with intellectual property (IP) then I suggest you talk to your academic supervisor or your university may have a department that can give you advice.

Essentially, in the vast majority of cases you will own the IP to your work (you do not work for the univeristy and therefore they do not own your IP). In our agreement you retain the IP and can use it in whichever way you please (e.g. start a business, sell a product etc). We are simply asking for a license for us and our community partners to use your IP in our work in the future (we are hoping this is why you signed up). Aditionaly to the IP agreement the confidentiality agreement outlines your responsibilities if you are given confidential information by EWB; it is very rare for you to be given confidential information and if you are we will let you know. 

You will need to download and sign a copy of the agreement. If you are working as part of a group all of the team must sign either a the same agreement or individual ones. After signing you will need to send us an electronic copy using the upload tool below. If you do not have access to a scanner then a camera phone photo is sufficient. Please refer to your welcome email to obtain your project number. Please email the research team research@ewb.org.au if you have any questions about this process. 

Pre-Project Survey

We are always striving to make the University Research Program bigger and better. We would also love to know a bit more about your motivations for conducting a research project with EWB. Don't worry, you are already on the program so please be honest. Answers here will not affect your participation in the research program. Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts with us! We are exploring student motivations for engaging in EWB programs and your feedback is invaluable.

Tips for getting started

You should have the 1-2 page topic brief that you probably downloaded from the EWB website before you applied, this provides you with background information to your topic and what you are expected to achieve. If you have not done so already you should discuss the brief with your supervisor to make sure our requirements are compatible with your university requirements. Your first meeting with your supervisor is also a good opportunity to discuss the approach you are going to take in conducting your research. In most instances this will involve a review of the current literature to help define the problem followed by a more actionable action such as building a design, conducting some lab experiemnts, forming a descision making tree. The EWB research briefs tend to be quite boroad in scope and have flexibility built in so there are often oportunities for you to choose your own adventure and take the project in a direction that suits your strengths and interests.

You might find from your initial literature research that you need to focus on a specific component of the brief or that before you can tackle one of the opportunities described in the brief you first need to conduct another piece of research. This is totally fine, a few weeks into the semester I will be asking you to send me a reverse project brief, this is your opportunity to inform me of the direction you are taking with the research.

EWB is likely to have a few resources or maybe even some previous work that will help you get started. However, you should challenge the assumptions in that previous work and use is as a useful resource. We need fresh and innovative research to tackle the topics not someone to simply repeat the work that has been done before.

Another good tip early on is to start to think about what you know, what assumptions you are making and what you don’t know. Hopefully as you go through your project there will be fewer unknowns. Of course we are here to help if you get really stuck but your supervisor is the first point of call as they are likely to have supervised many projects before.

Other top tips include:

  • Communicate regularly with your university supervisor to ensure you fully understand your academic and project requirements. Let them know early if you are having any difficulties.
  • Become involved with EWB initiatives, particularly through the local Chapters and projects related to your area of research. This will link you to more people with expertise in the field and improve your understanding of the community and environment that you are working with.
  • Be organised. Make a plan about the information and data you need to collect, and ensure you have an appropriate lead?time. Remember that getting information from developing countries can take longer than you might be used to – so plan accordingly.
  • Understand that you might not be able to get every piece of information you want. This is true of all real?world projects and the important thing is to be aware of the areas where your data is limited. Communicate this with your university supervisor and seek their input.
  • Ensure you meet all of your university and EWB requirements on time and in full.
  • Enjoy the process! This is a great educational opportunity and will help you stand out in future interviews and job applications. This is the perfect gateway to continue to volunteer and work with EWB in Australia and overseas.