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SDU students help Engineers Without Borders

Engineering students at the University of Southern Denmark have the opportunity in their fifth semester to choose the project course Expert in Team. This year again, the tasks were set by Engineers Without Borders, and the NGO is impressed by the student's abilities and can actually use the their projects in their work, says the Secretary-General.

By Sebastian Wittrock, , 1/5/2024

A cylinder filled with stones.


That was essentially the technological solution that won the competition at the conclusion of the Expert in Team project course for engineering students in their 5th semester at the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Southern Denmark.


The tasks were set by Engineers Without Borders, who wanted suggestions for solutions to a number of specific problems in relation to their work in Sierra Leone, including water filtration.


And the cylinder can function as a water filter. Merely through different layers of grain sizes of sand and gravel and some special microorganisms that naturally grow on the stones, it can filter up to 99% of impurities and bacteria.


The cylinder was developed by six students: Anne Alba Brun, Emma Schebye Skriver, Mohamed Gomaa, Mohammed Isse, Stefano De Carli, and Viktorie Valdmanová. And it's not that it's particularly groundbreaking. The technology is known and already exists in existing water filters.


But that was precisely the point, say the students:


- The project was about taking a technology that already exists and is accessible to people in developing countries, getting it to Sierra Leone, getting people to use it and feel that it is their own. Our idea is that the end users themselves should build their own filter, so they actually come to use it, and it's not just some gadget they have been given by an NGO.


It was exactly the great understanding of the cultural aspect of engineering in a developing country that impresses the judges, says Dorte Lindegaard Madsen, former Secretary-General of Engineers Without Borders in Denmark:


- The group went in and said: We need to understand what the people we work with are capable of when we come with a technical message – and then they did a fantastic analysis of that.


Overall, the former Secretary-General is impressed with the level of the students.


- It's amazing to see how the students enter our world and try to figure out how technology interacts with the context and the people, because that's the main challenge for an organization like ours, says Dorte Lindegaard Madsen.


The projects are also a real help for Engineers Without Borders, she says.


- We're not going to take a project directly from here and just go out and implement it. But we use it as input and inspiration, and the reports are sent out to the relevant task groups working with the themes.

Editing was completed: 05.01.2024