University of Strathclyde students reach final of engineering competition

TWO University of Strathclyde teams have made it into the final of an engineering competition which aims to provide real world solutions to issues faced by a real community.

The Engineers Without Borders UK Engineering for People Design Challenge attracted entries from over 1,000 students teams across the UK and Ireland.

Entrants were tasked to come up with design solutions for the issues faced by the Makers Valley community in Johannesburg, South Africa. The university said that the area has suffered from rapid population growth and economic inequality – resulting in housing shortages, food scarcity and inconsistent access to water and electricity.

The Strathclyde ‘Green Roofs’ team and the group behind a sustainable urban drainage design were selected as two of just 37 projects to go forward to the final.

The green roofs project was a mitigation strategy against urbanisation in Makers Valley – with the design accommodating urban development while also providing benefits for the environment, nutrition, and well being, as well as incorporating native plants threatened by urbanisation.

The team of Shannen Krost and Mackenzie Moreau, who are on exchange during their civil engineering undergraduate at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and Rocco Panetta and Gabriele Valente, students from Italy who are also on the MEng civil engineering course at Strathclyde, impressed the judges with the duality of the design ‘as both a possible source of income and food for the owner and an educational tool for the community and schools to learn from’.

The University of Strathclyde said that judges were also impressed at the team recognising the need to protect endangered plant species, particularly given that South Africa is home to the smallest and one of the most endangered floral kingdoms in the world.

Shannen Krost said, “Being born and raised in Johannesburg, the design competition became a very personal project for me. The team and I are exceptionally proud of ourselves, not only making it to the finale but also the top six. It was a lovely way to wrap up my exchange experience.”

Mackenzie Moreau added, “The Design Challenge experience gave our team invaluable skills we will be able to use for the rest of our engineering careers.”