Engineers look beyond borders

A FORMER Ballarat resident is on a mission to make a difference in some of the world’s poorest nations.

Lucy Dwyer, a student at Charles Darwin University, last week formed part of a trio that won the national Engineers Without Borders competition for promoting issues faced in third world areas.

Along with fellow students Nathan Schultz and Michelle Pollard, she invented an ingenious design that addressed poor hygiene practices in the An Minh community in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region. And all it took was an empty water bottle, rope, bamboo and wire.

Together, the trio invented a portable hand washing basin that could be cheaply reproduced and could help improved the high death rate in the area due to poor hygiene. They beat more than 7500 students across Australia to take out the award.

In addition to the engineering aspect of the competition, there was also a humanitarian side to determine what was needed to help the problems.

“There is a 15 per cent infant mortality rate in that area,” said Ms Dwyer.

“We came up with a design that costs as little as US$17 to make, but can reduce potentially fatal diarrhoeal disease by more than 40 per cent. It would be fantastic if they could use it over there one day. It’s something we’re quite proud of.”

It was the first time students from Charles Darwin University had reached the national final, let alone taken out the top prize.