Engineers make a difference….to global poverty

If you think of the word ‘engineering’ what immediately springs into mind?  Big machines in factories?   Oil and gas refineries?  Trains, planes and automobiles? Obviously I don’t know what you might think but I would be surprised if the image you have in your head is anything like those on this page, but in fact engineering is hugely important in helping poor people in the developing world lift themselves out of poverty.  Which means engineers are really important too.

So what sort of things do these engineers do? Well, one thing they do is design cooking stoves that burn more efficiently, reducing the amount of smoke produced.  This hugely improves the health of families using the stove and frees up time so more time can be spend earning a living. Engineers also design wind turbines and micro hydro systems that can bring electricity to people who live in the country, where the national grid doesn’t reach. For some communities this means they have light in the evening for the first time and can charge batteries enabling them to start a business that will provide enough food for their family.  Other engineers work on ways of cleaning water so children are less likely to get sick from diseases carried in water.  So, to put it simply engineers work with others to produce the technology poor people need to improve their lives.

Practical Action is an organisation that believes all people have to right to technology like this, technology that will improve their lives without harming the lives of others either now or in the future.  We call this technology justice.

At Practical Action we have a number of engineers who are involved in projects like the ones above.  They all got the job they have today by making the decision to study STEM subjects at school.  If you like the idea of a job that makes a real difference to lots of people’s lives then why not consider becoming an engineer like them?

To find out more please have a look at the ways in which our engineers Ewan, Ella and Lucho got to work at Practical Action and what they love about their jobs traveling all over the world.  You can even order a free poster for your school to go with them.

To find out more about technology justice and what you can do to help please visit our website.



This blog was written by Julie Brown.


Photographs supplied by Practical Action.