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Cooking up a healthy solution for Nepal

Cooking up a healthy solution for Nepal

Using their engineering skills to create a range of sustainable solutions for villagers in Nepal was the focus of this year’s Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Challenge.

The winning team from Albany designed a clay oven hood, which also featured a small compartment to store dry collected wood. The prototype uses cleverly-positioned air holes to allow a more efficient burning process, and ventilation of harmful smoke up through the clay hood, and out through the chimney.

Dubbed “Team One”, students Dorrin Asefi, Natassja Benefield, Ryan Bougen and Kahn Caute will go on to represent Albany at the national EWB Challenge, to be held later in the year.

Senior lecturer in the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology Dr Aruna Shekar says the EWB Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for first-year students to work together on all the phases of a design project, and come up with something useful.

“The judges commented on the high calibre of entries from students this year, and we’ve seen this competition grow from strength to strength since it started. It’s a great way for our students to get hands-on practical experience in working on a project.

“They have to come up with a concept and then create a prototype using products that would be easily available in Nepal. We give them background data, including population, rainfall and the issues the villagers face. It takes them out of their comfort zones and gets them to think about sustainability, and how to help people in underdeveloped countries.”

The competition is part of a first year engineering paper, and this year 65 students took part. The paper provides students with the opportunity to learn about design, teamwork and communication through real, sustainable, affordable and cross-cultural development projects.

“Team One’s solution was selected because it would make a huge impact on the quality of air in a Nepalese villager’s home, and they took into consideration the context, locally available materials, economics, ease of construction and maintainability,” says Dr Shekar.

Teams from the Albany campus have won the national EWB challenge for the last two years, and Dr Shekar is hoping this year’s team will make it three years in a row. The winning national team travels to Australia and represents New Zealand against a number of Australian universities.

For more information on Engineers Without Borders, go to their website:


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