A team of first-year students from Flinders University’s School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics has won the State final of the Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB) Challenge – an annual competition which enables students to design creative solutions to real-world problems.
Students Michael Crame, Damian Goldney, Ben Hall, Keegan Hogarth, Bethany Kamitakahara and Frank Morrissey were awarded the state prize for their concept to use a combined hemp and bamboo plantation in Timor-Leste for sustainable building applications.
Designed as part of their first-year Professional Skills topic, the team proposed to propagate linked bamboo and hemp plantations in Codo, a small rural village in Timor-Leste which has been identified in the 2013 EWB Challenge as an area in need of sustainable development.
“Most of the infrastructure in Codo is of extremely poor quality, with houses traditionally made from rocks or bamboo because the more permanent building materials – cement and steel – are too expensive for most locals,” Dr Trent Lewis, the students’ topic coordinator and a lecturer in the School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics, said.
“The proposed solution of a combined industrial hemp and bamboo plantation offers a sustainable, affordable building material, thereby providing local environmental benefits by reducing soil erosion, enhancing the local economy by providing a resource to sell or trade, providing employment opportunities and offering the opportunity for locals to learn new skills,” Dr Lewis said.
The students will present their award-winning concept to an audience of peers, academics, engineering professionals and community members at the EWB National Showcase, which will be held at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology on December 3.