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EWB Challenge

The pioneering design program teaching primary-year engineering students to design creative solutions to real world problems
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Real design challenges developed with real communities. Develop the professional and practical design skills of students with this first step into professional engineering practice. Using comprehensive design briefs researched and prepared by EWB Australia and our network of community partners, students develop engineering solutions for real communities living in the countries within which we work.

Each year, the EWB Challenge as part of the EWB Challenge Series, presents a new design brief for first-year students to problem-solve.

We partner with grassroots community development organisations in the Asia Pacific and co-design a real-life challenge that has been identified by the community. Each brief is meticulously researched on location, with extensive documentation, interviews,and multi-media assets provided to students to ensure a rich, deep insight into the life and challenges of that community.

Learn more about the program requirements for universities and students to participate.

Students work in teams and are given a term to develop their solution. Since the establishment of the EWB Challenge in 2007, students have worked on designs to solutions from renewable energy to food processing, and for communities in Zambia, Vietnam, India, Timor Leste, Cambodia and Vanuatu

The resulting student designs are reviewed by EWB, industry partners, academics and representatives from the community partner organisation. Importantly, all ideas are shared back to the community partner, enabling the potential for future development.

“The EWB Challenge really throws you in the deep end and gets you to consider all aspects of the project. You have got to engage with the client and consider the user experience,…not everyone lives the way I do or thinks the way I do. “

Liroy Lourenco

EWB Challenge participant, Engineering Student, RMIT University.

The Benefits

  • Ready made platform supporting practical learning outcomes for students
  • Low risk first step into real engineering practice
  • Fosters human-centered design approaches
  • Connection to like-minded peers and a network of leading community and industry organisations
  • Contributes to real outcomes and purposeful research



“A big part of the EWB Challenge program is that it teaches students empathy. Engineers are all about solving people’s problems. How can I solve your problem if I can’t empathise with that problem?”

Scott Rayburg

Senior Lecturer, Department of Engineering, , Swinburne University.

The Showcase

The EWB Challenge Showcase is the annual capstone event of the EWB Challenge. The very best student design teams come together to compete for a selection of awards, adjudicated by an expert panel of community and industry partners. Students also have the opportunity to network and learn more about human-centered engineering approaches through supplementary workshops and presentations.

“I really liked having a real village in Vanuatu to work with, and knowing that I was designing for real people.”

Odyssey Posimani

EWB Challenge Award Winner, 2017 EWB Challenge team, University of Canterbury NZ

Our Community Partners

The EWB Challenge provides EWB Australia’s community-based partners and programs with a valuable pathway for connecting with the global engineering and design sector.

EWB Australia works collaboratively with our community-based partner to identify projects for the design briefs that suit student engagement and support. Connecting with universities through a platform like the EWB Challenge is an opportunity for programs and community partners to source innovative, creative ideas and research for a broad range of projects of interest to them.

At the completion of each semester, ideas generated through student projects are workshopped with EWB Australia and partner staff and volunteers, to investigate how appropriate and inspiring outputs might be integrated into current or future areas of work.

Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation

Community Partner for the 2022 EWB Challenge

Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation (Dawul Wuru) is an Aboriginal Traditional Owner owned, managed and governed community organisation that exists to ‘protect, secure, support and promote the rights and interests of local Aboriginal Traditional owners and custodians’.

2022 EWB Challenge project briefs support Yirrganydji people to sustain wellbeing, culture and care for their rainforest and coastal land and sea Country between Cairns and Port Douglas, in Far North Queensland in Australia, for the benefit of current and future generations.

The 2022 EWB Challenge is sponsored by RS Group.

CfAT’s Andre Grant and EWB’s Alison Stoakley on Country during the initial scoping visit to Cape York in 2019

Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT)

Community Partner for the 2020 EWB Challenge

The Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT) is an Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander controlled not-for-profit organisation which ‘exists to support people in regional and remote Australia in the choices they make in order to maintain their relationship with country.

2020 EWB Challenge project briefs explored appropriate technology which supports traditional owners living and thriving on homelands and outstations, with a focus on CfAT’s work with communities in the Cape York region of Far North Queensland.

We are delighted to be delivering the 2022 EWB Challenge in partnership with First Nations community organisation, Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation (Dawul Wuru).

This is the third year in a row that the EWB Challenge will be delivered in partnership with a First Nations community organisation, building on EWB Australia’s commitment to supporting First Nations people to pursue their aspirations and to live safely and productively on Country.


The 2022 EWB Challenge is sponsored by RS Group.

University Partners

Interested in our later year offerings?

Learn more about our Research Challenge, a program within the EWB Challenge Series for later-year undergraduate and postgraduate students of any discipline.

EWB Challenge Stories

Announcing our 2024 EWB Challenge community partner – Torres Strait Island Regional Council 30 January, 2024 - Each year, over 10,000 first-year university students across Australia and New Zealand participate in the EWB Challenge. Students work in teams to develop a solution to challenges identified by EWB… read more
Congratulations to the 2023 EWB Challenge Showcase award winners 21 December, 2023 - Each year, the EWB Challenge Showcase brings together top university student teams from across Australia and New Zealand, EWB staff, our community partner representatives, and industry. Students present the most… read more
EWB Australia staff and Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation staff at the 2022 EWB Challenge Showcase in Cairns. Meeting on Yirrganydji Country for the EWB Challenge Showcase 20 December, 2022 - Hosted by event sponsors TNQ Drought Hub and The Cairns Institute at James Cook University’s Nguma-bada campus, the 15th EWB Challenge Showcase heralded the return to in-person showcases since the… read more
Announcing our 2023 EWB Challenge community partner 18 October, 2022 - Photo caption: Technology Development Specialist Mariny Chheang and Program Support Officer Chanrika Keo leading a female focus group with Pu Ngaol village members.  Each year, over 10,000 first-year university students… read more
The challenge that blew his mind: Tim Kuiper 30 August, 2022 - As a newly-minted undergrad, Tim Kuiper took a seat in his first class of mechanical engineering at Deakin University. Little did he know, it was a unit that was about… read more
Embedding Indigenous perspectives at Griffith University 29 August, 2022 - The academic team at Griffith University has been working to authentically embed Indigenous perspectives into their engineering and design curriculum. This begins in a student's first year at Griffith University… read more
On Yirrganydji Country with Dawul Wuru 26 January, 2022 - Pictured: EWB Chair Gavin Blakey's Irukandji district badge from his time as a Cub and Scout in Cairns. Each year, EWB Australia partners with universities and a different community-based organisation… read more
International universities engineering with First Nations communities 31 August, 2021 - The EWB Challenge is Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB)’s pioneering design program enabling over 10,000 engineering and technical students from Australian and New Zealand universities to design creative solutions to… read more
Wenqian’s way: From inquisitive kid to challenging the status quo 28 April, 2021 - Picture yourself as a kid, watching your parents clean the house. If you’re like most people, you couldn’t think of anything more uninspiring.  If you’re like Wenqian Gan, this is… read more

Contact Us

Please get in touch if you’d like a copy of the current program outline.