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Project seeks to educate the educators about engineering for the developing world

Loughborough University academics are part of a unique European-wide project to teach the next generation of engineers about the needs of people living in the developing world.

Engineering has a crucial role to play in improving the quality of life for millions of people across the globe, from providing clean drinking water to improving access to education.

But despite thousands of students graduating with degrees in engineering each year, few leave university with an understanding of the needs and challenges faced by the developing world.

This new project is hoping to address this issue by providing better training and resources for engineering lecturers.

Dr Rhoda Trimingham from the Loughborough Design School is leading the UK’s part in the study, along with lecturer Brian Reed from the University’s Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC).  She explains: “If we want our students to have a better understanding of how their skills could benefit the developing world, we need to ensure those teaching them also have a good understanding.

“There are hundreds of engineering lecturers across the UK, teaching everything from product design to civil engineering, but very few of these have any experience of the developing world.  To ensure this information can cascade down to the student community we need to educate the lecturers.”

During the course of the two-year project new teaching materials for lecturers will be created that help integrate engineering for the developing world into the curricula.  Short training courses will also be offered and a network for relevant academic staff created.  Academics from institutions in Italy and Spain will be developing the same for their respective countries.

Charities Practical Action and Engineers without Borders are also partners in the project, which is supported by the Higher Education Academy.  All are keen to see a growing interest in graduate engineers wanting to use their skills to support the developing world.

Dr Trimingham added: “Charities and the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working in these countries support this project because they recognise there is a real need to encourage new talent into the sector.  To do this we need to inspire them and offer them opportunities to get involved whilst they are still at university.”

The €662,330 ‘Global Dimension of Engineering Education (GDEE): Cross cutting development into technology studies’ project is funded by the European Commission.  For more information please see http://gdee.eu

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