The Telegraph News, 13 October 2013
When we think of professionals using their skills for humanitarian causes abroad, we often think of doctors, nurses and teachers.
But engineers are playing an increasing role in important projects in developing countries.
University of Tasmania engineering Honours student Talbot Matthews recently returned from a trip to Cambodia with humanitarian organisation Engineers Without Borders.
His mission was to help improve drinking water systems by improving the design of rainwater tanks.
Mr Matthews, 24, said Cambodia lagged behind many other developing Asian nations when it came to lifting drinking water and sanitation standards.
Eight per cent of child deaths in the country are the result of diarrhoea caused by unclean water.
|Talbot Matthews on his trip to Cambodia where|
he helped put clean drinking water into villages.
Mr Matthews has spent this year working on design solutions for the concrete tanks and said visiting the country to put his ideas in practice was a huge learning curve.
Successful engineering in a developing country, he discovered, relied heavily on community engagement, to ensure local people had the technical knowhow to build and maintain the infrastructure.
"It needs to be built on site with materials that can be sourced locally," Mr Matthews said.
He said humanitarian engineering was exciting and rewarding.
"The aim of humanitarian engineering is to build the capacity of the communities, impart skills that leave them empowered and with the ability to maintain current structures and develop into the future," he said.
Mr Matthews was last week named the winner of the Institution of Engineering and Technology Tasmania Network's Present Around the World competition, for his presentation on humanitarian engineering.