How do you connect with and provide information to engineers and others trying to make a difference in underserved communities in many parts of the world? Engineering for Change (E4C) has been providing such knowledge through its program of webinars. IEEE, along with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Engineers Without Borders-USA, is a founding organization of E4C, a global community of organizations and individuals dedicated to promoting sustainable and accessible technology-based solutions for those who need a helping hand.
More than 20 E4C webinars have been presented and archived since the program began in April 2012. Topics have included energy, water, sanitation, structures, and health.
The webinars are one of E4C’s key programs. Each is an hour long and can be accessed for free by anyone anywhere. Titles include “Using Low-Cost Communication and Computer Technology to Improve the Quality of Healthcare in Rural Nicaragua,” “Exploring Challenges and Misconceptions in Scaling Energy Access in Developing Countries,” and “Development of Global Medical Devices: A Responsible Design Approach.” While some sessions cater to specific technical problems, most are applicable across different communities, such as “Navigating Cross-Cultural Differences on International Development Projects” and “Designing with the Base of the Pyramid.”
E4C has also been adding downloadable supplemental material to its webinar archive, known as the Knowledge Base. It is also open to all, free of charge. Supplementary materials offered so far have included academic papers, field resources, classroom aids, and magazine articles. For example, resources provided by One Acre Fund in May, provide details on how to pursue a career in international development and job searching tips. E4C has also included an informational video from ¡Échale! a tu Casa about its rural housing project to supplement a November 2012 webinar on “Housing For Families By Families.” The video details the organization’s efforts to improve the housing situation in the Calakmul area of Campeche, Mexico, by teaching construction skills to local residents.
The webinars have also featured speakers from nongovernment organizations such as Practical Action and IDE; social enterprises such as Uncharted Play and ThinkImpact; and universities including Villanova and Rice. Those who have accessed the programs include both practicing and retired engineers, academics, undergrad and graduate students, development professionals, and social entrepreneurs.
This month’s webinar, on 17 July, will feature Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organization. Sim has been working through his boldly named organization to improve sanitary conditions around the world with powerful advocacy, inventive technology, the education of local communities, and the building of local marketplaces.
REGISTER TO ATTEND
To attend an upcoming webinar, start by registering for it. You’ll then receive an e-mail with a link to the program to use on the day of the event. Click on the link at least 10 minutes before the event begins to download the software you’ll need. Once the webinar begins, you will be able to see the presenter’s slides, listen to the broadcast, and participate in live chats with fellow attendees.
Participants can also earn one professional development hour (PDH) for each webinar (whether attending live or watching a recording) by e-mailing their name, the title of the webinar, the date, and the PDH code (mentioned during the webinar) to firstname.lastname@example.org.