The University of Newcastle, Australia

Civil engineering student’s humanitarian adventure

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Final year civil engineering student, Kelsie Clarke, recently returned from a three-week Dialogues on Development study tour in Cambodia.

In 2011, Kelsie completed an Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Challenge in one of her courses and designed a sustainable transport solution for a community in India. Her group progressed to the NSW state competition.

This success gave Kelsie the chance to successfully apply for the EWB Challenge Scholarship, a three-year professional development program in humanitarian engineering.

"Before you go into engineering, you think design or consulting or construction, but doing the challenge really opened my eyes up to what you can do as an engineer," Kelsie said. 

During the thought-provoking study tour Kelsie experienced how local people in villages and rural areas of Cambodia are addressing their water, sanitation, infrastructure, energy, and livelihood development needs.

Kelsie helping a child in Cambodia

"I learnt on the trip a lot about sustainable development and appropriate technology and also the good and bad of what can happen. A lot of people go over with good intentions but it doesn't necessarily give good outcomes.

"It gave me an idea of what companies I want to work for, what values. I want to work for a company that takes sustainability seriously, not just environmental but social and business sustainability and gets that balance between them."

Kelsie gained a lot of personal development from the study tour and says it helped her with her studies as well as gave her direction on where her career could take her.

"I think it's complimented the studies, in that a lot of the engineering courses are quite technical. It's complimented what being an engineer is, so it's given me more of a holistic approach of what I'll be doing when I graduate."

As part of the scholarship Kelsie will be completing her final year research project through EWB later this year.

To find out more about the scholarship, visit the Engineers Without Borders website.

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