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Student wins scholarship for humanitarian engineering skills

25 September 2014

UC student wins scholarship for humanitarian engineering skills

A University of Canterbury student is the only New Zealander to be awarded a scholarship that will utilise her engineering skills for humanitarian projects.

Second year natural resources engineering student Rebecca Forgesson has been awarded the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Australia Challenge Scholarship.

She is one of only five young engineering students from Australasia to be awarded the scholarship, and is the only New Zealand student to receive it this year.

The EWB Challenge Scholarship recognises high-achieving and values-driven students who are passionate about applying their engineering skills to community development and poverty eradication.
Rebecca will now take part in the EWB Challenge Scholarship programme, which provides development opportunities for emerging leaders and a pathway to creating positive change through humanitarian engineering.

During the scholarship, students undertake a range of professional development programmes within the EWB organisation. The programme deepens students’ understanding of an engagement with humanitarian engineering and community development.

Rebecca says she is excited about winning the scholarship and is looking forward to the opportunities the programme will provide.
“It is an honour to be recognised by EWB as it is one of the most well-known humanitarian engineering organisations in the world, and an organisation I hope to continue to be involved with in the future.”

To be eligible for the scholarship Rebecca, along with UC students Harry Chapman, Charles Barnes and Alex Newman, took part in the EWB Challenge 2013. They designed a concept for a renewable, self-sustainable energy generation system for a small town in Timor Leste (East Timor).

“We had to consider energy requirements, cultural preferences of the community, budget and how the village would maintain the system.

“It involved researching and selecting the best option for the given brief, and my group selected a wind turbine that could be tilted up and down for maintenance and extreme weather.”

Rebecca hopes to use her skills and knowledge from her degree to design systems that ensure peoples’ basic human needs are met.

“Nearly one billion people in the world don’t have access to clean water, contributing to high illness and death rates.

“As an engineer, I hope to be able to help people gain access to a reliable clean water source through water supply design skills and knowledge that I will develop through my degree.

“Essentially, I want to be able to improve the quality of life of communities living in less developed countries. I want to make a difference with my engineering skills.”

The scholarship programme is coordinated by Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Australia, with the support of BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities.


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