Each year some of our greatest young engineers gather at the Humanitarian Engineering Conference to focus on people-centred and sustainable engineering projects that engage local communities.
Our people who attended this year’s conference were blown away by the content, this is what they took away:
1. Community engagement is out, embracement is in
Community engagement vs. community embracement was a major theme at this year’s conference.
Conventionally, community engagement is used as successful communication and metric method to measure brand reputation, project priorities and stakeholder responsiveness.
During community engagement project teams will communicate with influential stakeholders; presenting access to project information and opportunity to voice ideas, recommendations and concerns during major stages of a project’s developments.
Historically, this has been an effective and critical element in the wider project lifecycle. However, the model is ageing. Now, we are realising that the adaption of ‘change’ requires ‘embracement’ – and what’s a better way of achieving this than involving communities further into the development of a project via active participation?
“Instead of doing for the community, we should do with the community. That way, people not only own the final product but also gain skills and feel valuable.” - Tram Dinh, Graduate Structural Engineer (Hamilton)
“An awesome quote that struck home was ‘I hear, and I forget, I see, and I remember, I do, and I understand’.” - Brittany Hill, Graduate Water and Wastewater Engineer Water (Hamilton)
There were many great presentations that demonstrate the success of community embracement. In particular, the Living Building Challenge Tūhoe buildings.
The challenge called on engineers and community members for the creation of several small building projects. The challenge? Each project must operate to seven performance areas water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty.