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Panel discussion on the role of engineers in humanitarian and international development efforts

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This blog by Pallavi Achanta details the recent panel discussion on the role of engineers in humanitarian and international development efforts.

Author: Pallavi Achanta, HID Panel member

On 16 May 2024, the Humanitarian and International Development (HID) Panel hosted a panel discussion on the role of engineers in humanitarian and international development efforts. The in-person event was attended by 65 people, with a good distribution of both members and non-members from engineering firms, architects, donors and humanitarian organisations.

The panel was chaired by Tom Newby, former chair of the HID Panel and engineer with CARE International, and currently a structural engineer at Buro Happold. The panellists were:

  • Miriam Graham - a Chartered engineer at Arup who has also worked closely with Bridges to Prosperity. Miriam is a member of the HID Panel
  • Hayley Gryc - a Chartered engineer in Arup's International Development Group, Hayley inputs into Arup's strategic advisory work in this area and leads on social infrastructure
  • Step Haiselden - a Chartered structural engineer working with CARE international. Step leads the Global Shelter Team, supporting emergency shelter work internationally.  Step is a member of the HID Panel
  • Noorullah Kuchai - a humanitarian engineer at RedR, managing post-conflict engineering projects. Noor is now predominantly involved in providing engineering training

A key takeaway from the event was that pathways into the field are different for today’s young engineers than they were previously. Deploying volunteers in-country is less desirable and instead there is a greater emphasis on building the capabilities of local engineers to prevent damage and respond to disasters faster. It was also highlighted that this needs to go hand in hand with a more informed understanding of what we mean by localisation and how this should be applied given the cultural and political context in the country.

As a pathway into the sector the panel highlighted the value of engineers becoming more involved in charitable and humanitarian work from their own countries through local level engagement, providing services virtually, and supporting international charities.

In-person events like this are a great way for engineers to network with both other engineers and individuals from other associated sectors (eg architects, humanitarian stakeholders, donors, etc) to get first-hand ideas for how to develop important skills (as laid out by the HID competencies framework), and to discover potential routes into humanitarian engineering from prominent people in the field.
 

<h4>The role of engineers in humanitarian and international development efforts</h4>

The role of engineers in humanitarian and international development efforts

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