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NTU students reach Grand Final of Engineers Without Borders’ People Design Challenge

BSc (Hons) Product Design and BSc (Hons) Civil Engineering students celebrate reaching the Grand Final of this year’s Engineers Without Borders’ People Design Challenge.

Terrakitta: a water filtration system that uses terracotta to eliminate 99.88% of toxins found in raw untreated ground water.

Earlier this year, two sets of undergraduate students studying on Product Design and Civil Engineering courses were entered into the Engineers Without Borders’ (EWB) People Design Challenge. Both groups successfully reached the Grand Finals, with the Civil Engineering group coming in the Top Six overall.

The EWB People Design Challenge is an annual competition that asks students to propose solutions to problems affecting the lives of people on a global scale. It encourages them to think about the social, economic, and environmental impact of their engineering and design work. This year 26 groups competed in the competition.

The unique nature of this year’s challenge focused on Cape York Peninsula, an area in Queensland, Australia. A brief was provided that suggested one of eight design opportunities, each linked to one of the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals. After reading the brief and completing research, NTU students chose to focus on projects designed to improve sanitation of drinking water.

The Civil Engineering students – all in their second year – who reached the top six of the competition included Millie Ward, Kim Burgess, Max Wilkinson and Reuben Williamson.

Their entry was a design for a washdown station for vehicles in the Cape York area of Australia. These stations play a vital role in bio-security, helping to protect the way of life for the population. During the project NTU staff acted as mentors, offering advice along the way.

Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering, David Russhard reflected on their success by saying:

“The Engineers Without Borders Designing for People Design Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for our students to engage in real life problems and make a difference to communities around the world. We’re delighted student have risen to this challenge, demonstrating exemplary professionalism throughout the competition. Reaching the top six of all entrants marks a significant achievement and one that we are very proud of.”

The Product Design students who took part in the competition included Jack Courtier, Deeya Halai, Luke Partridge and Leen Amjad Nwair Ziadat. Their design was Terrakitta: a water filtration system that uses the porous properties of terracotta and the antimicrobial nature of the silver nitrate coating to create a filter that eliminates 99.88% of toxins found in raw untreated ground water.

Reflection on their participation, Product Design Lecturer, Karen Winfield said:

“We're pleased that our students tackled the challenge head on - getting under the skin of the challenges faced by communities in Australia to solve real world problems. This coupled with their technical knowledge and understanding of the local manufacturing capabilities, made for a real world outcome and thus they were successfully recognised to go through to the grand finals.”

For NTU, this year’s competition was especially important as it helped foster greater collaboration between Civil Engineering and Product Design students – both part of the School of Architecture, Design, and the Built Environment. Next year, the school plans to compete in the competition together as a joint project.

More information about the competition can be found on the Engineers with Borders website:

Published on 22 September 2022
  • Subject area: Architecture and civil engineering
  • Category: Current students; School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment