The Engineers Without Borders Australia Challenge (EWB Challenge) is an Australasian design program for first-year university students. Students work in teams to develop conceptual designs for sustainable development that contribute towards real international development projects.

The program is based on the sustainable development projects from EWB's growing list of past and present programs. Each year, the EWB Challenge design brief will be inviting students to tackle a new range of projects identified by EWB in conjunction with its community development program partners. Students will work in teams of 4 - 6 to design solutions for projects ranging from water supply and quality to sanitation, waste management, energy supply, transport, permaculture and infrastructure development.

Participating universities may nominate up to four teams to submit their work to EWB. These reports are reviewed by a judging panel and awards are made to outstanding contributions and include the EWB Challenge Overall Champion Award incorporating a study tour and visit to the EWB Community Partner project sites and BHP Billiton Award.

The EWB Challenge helps to ensure students are inspired and motivated by their first year engineering experience.

Engineers Without Borders

The EWB Challenge is an education initiative of Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB). EWB brings together engineering students, young graduates, experienced engineers and even non engineers as a team to tackle the issues of development and sustainability and help solve basic, small scale engineering problems faced by many people in need.

EWB also aims to expand the dimensions of experience for engineers and engineering students through education and awareness raising activities focused on sustainable development, appropriate technology and poverty alleviation. EWB is committed to working with universities, professional associations, high schools and industry to increase understanding of these issues.

Program Partners

Habitat for Humanity Vietnam

Habitat for Humanity Vietnam (HFHV) is a non-government organisation operating as a part of Habitat for Humanity International. The organisation strives to create “a world where everyone has a decent place to live”. Within Vietnam it is of key importance to enable vulnerable individuals and households who lack decent shelter to obtain access to safe housing, clean water supply and sanitation

HFHV strives to develop and implement appropriate construction technology with low cost, environmentally sound, locally available and culturally appropriate materials for all housing, water and sanitation projects. In this, HFHV also incorporates disaster resilient construction features and sustainable approaches, such as wind-proofing roofs or using non-fired clay bricks.

Plan Timor Leste, Codo

Codo, and the Lautém sub-district are located in the North East of Timor Leste. Lautém has an economy primarily based around supporting itself. The livelihoods and well being of children, young people and women are dependent upon agriculture, which is strongly influenced by unique climatic conditions. Lautém is the only sub-district to have a surplus of food stocks, yet shows food shortage for the highest amount of months indicating that mobility of food, transport infrastructure and markets all require further growth. Towns within the region are thus highly vulnerable to the wayward extremes of weather conditions that occur and food sustainability is of particular importance alongside youth development, with just under half the population below the age of 18.

Plan Timor Leste has been working with local NGO’s in the communities of Timor Leste since 2001, helping poor children and youth to access their rights to education, health, livelihoods and protection. Plan's vision is of a world in which all children realise their full potential in societies that respect people's rights and dignity and it does this through implementing programs aimed to improve early childhood education, water, sanitation and hygiene services, child protection, youth livelihoods and youth participation. With the help of all challenge participants, Plan and EWB intend to extend that collaboration to the community of Codo as a whole and from there even further afield.

Corporate Sponsor

The EWB Challenge is sponsored by BHP Billiton. EWB would like to recognise the significant contribution made by this organisation towards this design program. BHP Billiton sponsorship enables the extensive implementation of the EWB Challenge into first year university courses across Australia and New Zealand. It also enables the EWB Challenge Awards (including the study tour for the EWB Challenge Overall Champion team) and demonstrates industries commitment to sustainability education.

BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton is the sponsor of the 2012 EWB Challenge and a national Gold Partner of EWB.

BHP Logo

BHP Billiton is the worlds largest diversified natural resources company, with some 41,000 employees across 100 operations in approximately 25 countries. The companys core purpose is to create long-term value through the discovery, development and conversion of natural resources and the provision of innovative customer and market-focused solutions.

BHP Billiton aspires to Zero Harm to people, its host communities and the environment and strives to achieve leading industry practice. Sound principles to govern safety, business conduct, social, environmental and economic activities are integral to the way it does business.




EWB Challenge supporters are committed to the enhancement of engineering education. They guide and assist the development, implementation and review of the EWB Challenge each year. The 2011 EWB Challenge is supported by Engineers Without Borders New Zealand (EWBNZ), The Australian Association for Engineering Education, The Australian Council of Engineering Deans, Engineers Australia (EA), 3Tier and Generic Conferencing.                                   

Engineers Without Borders New Zealand

Engineers Without Borders New Zealand is an organisation of professional and student engineers who share a vision to confront global challenges of poverty, sustainable development and social inequity by undertaking projects that will directly improve the quality of life in communities within New Zealand and in the South Pacific region.EWB NZ

EWB aims to improve access to services, and hence opportunities for communities by working alongside existing organisations to enact change. By providing skills and expertise developed across all disciplines of engineering, EWB matches community needs with the skillsets of students and professional engineers.


The Australasian Association for Engineering Education

The Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE) is a Technical Society of Engineers Australia dedicated to the advancement of the Education of Engineers. The Association is the focal point for information on all aspects of engineering education within Australasia and brings together people from across Australia and New Zealand who are committed to engineering education. The AAEE annual conference, Journal and newsletters are used to promote the professional development of engineering educators and the development and use of new teaching techniques and tools.


The Australian Council of Engineering Deans 

The Australian Council of Engineering Deans (ACED) represents engineering schools and faculties in 33 Australian universities. Its mission is to promote and advance engineering education, research and scholarship in Australia.

ACED has the following objectives:

To provide a forum for Deans of Engineering to discuss matters of mutual concern and national importance.
To monitor the state of engineering education, in terms of adequacy of programs and resources and quality of outcomes.
To initiate and conduct reviews, consistent with its mission.
To consult with and offer aid to universities, government and industry on matters relating to engineering education.
To collect and disseminate information about engineering faculties and schools.
To maintain strong links with IEAust, ATSE, AAEE and other relevant bodies to further its mission.
To form liaisons, where appropriate, with related organisations both within Australia and overseas.
To make statements on relevant issues to government enquiries, professional bodies, the media and the general community.
To assist in informing the general community on the need for and value of high-quality engineering education and to assist IEAust in raising the status and influence of the profession.
To promote research and research training in engineering.

Engineers Australia

EA Logo

As this country's largest and most diverse engineering association, Engineers Australia enhances both the influence and professional standing of engineers within the community. It also helps its 80,000+ members achieve their personal and professional goals by providing benefits, facilities and services designed to meet their needs through every stage of their career.



3TIER is the leading supplier of global renewable energy information services from early stage prospecting through detailed resource assessment and on to operational forecasting.


Generic Conferencing

Generic Conferencing provides international audio and web conferencing services, focused on open-source software and the educational and distance learning fields.