On Thursday 12th November, ICE London Graduate and Students Committee held a widely-attended evening panel event, supported by Mott MacDonald, which examined issues surrounding Engineering in the Developing World.
The evening was opened by the chair Nathan Baker, Director for Engineering Knowledge at the ICE, who cited Bazalgette's public sewers and the West African Ebola response in introducing the vast modern-day challenges and opportunities for a globally responsible engineering in the developing world.
Mark Harvey, Head of Profession for Infrastructure at the UK Department for International Development, opened with the questions of Why, What and How engineering should be delivered in the global south, citing key current questions such as urban development and regional connectivity. Using examples from his own experience of 20 years in fragile and conflict-affected states, Mark introduced some of the complexities in developing countries surrounding technical capacity, governance, and engineering standards.
Gary Taylor, a Civil Engineer from ITT Cardno, with over 40 years of leadership in the rural transport sector in developing countries, cited the 700,000km of largely unpaved rural roads in India to illustrate the scale of the connectivity problem. Using examples from Nepal and Tanzania, he illustrated the particular challenges facing engineers implementing these projects, and outlined the role for companies in institutional and policy issues, in addressing the research gap, and in sponsoring young engineers to work in the global south.
Martin McCann, Chief Executive of RedR for the last 9 years, outlined the role of RedR in training international and local engineers in the humanitarian sector. Martin outlined priorities in the developing world in improving capacity for disaster risk reduction and complex urban disasters, and highlighted parallel funding gaps. Martin went on to describe the role for the private sector in investing in overseas experience, and the importance for young engineers in the skills in 'messy engineering'.
Kieran Kelly, a Pavement Engineer with Mott MacDonald with 6 years' professional experience, outlined his own career path through projects in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Zambia and the South Pacific Islands, addressing the questions of why engineers should work in international development and how they might get involved, and raising challenges for the industry in addressing an unhealthy age profile in international development experience.
Nathan Baker chaired a lively session of questions and answers from the floor, with challenges posed to the donor community and industry leadership on their mainstream involvement and responsibility in developing world infrastructure, on ways of addressing the experience gaps in the sector, and on opportunities and advice for young engineers.
ICE London would like to thank the panellists and audience for sharing their views and Nathan Baker for chairing the event. Special thanks to Mott MacDonald and the Graduate and Student Committee for organising the event.