25 Mar 2018 10:43 PM | Dhruti Dheda (Administrator)

SAIChE IChemE EWB-SA evening took place on February 2018 at Worley Parsons, Melrose Arch.

SAIChE IChemE started off the year on a high note by showcasing the exciting organisation that is Engineers without Borders South Africa (EWB-SA), giving our members a chance to find out more about this organisation.

Dr David Ming, the director of EWB-SA, started off the evening talks by introducing the organisation and what it aims to address in South African society. The EWB-SA group aims to facilitate the transfer of engineering skillsets and convert this into far reaching benefits for local communities using a project based approach to implement and install and educate those areas in need of these critical skills.

Hundreds of projects have been started around the country, each with their own set of unique challenges to understand and get around. While getting projects off the ground and running, a key focus of the group is the educational value and the approach to unlocking this. Human Centered Design (HCD) and rapid prototyping are commonly used methods for unlocking potential of members and their teams in order to achieve project objectives at a fast pace. Members get exposure to valuable project management sessions being a part of the group equipping them with the tools to get ahead.

EWB-SA allows its members the chance to go back into their communities and use their knowledge to build and educate those who the projects may involve or affect. While the emphasis is on building infrastructure in these communities, another valuable output from these projects is the research papers written on the outcomes. Another way of contributing is by joining the Technical Advisory Board (TAB) as an engineering professional currently working in industry.

With the changing scenery from one suburb, the challenges that face a large majority of our population and are often overlooked and focus is placed on the problems faced in urban areas. Ming went on to explain that having an understanding of the complexities involved with the everyday lives of South Africans and the nature thereof are at the very heart of getting ahead of these projects.

One of the projects completed by EWB-SA includes the Green Day Care Center in Port Elizabeth featured in ArchDaily for its innovative approach to using green materials for building blocks.

Dr Baraka Celestin Sempuga went into more detail about the various projects being done. Some of the key projects include bio digesters supplying energy to supplement/supply power to homes. Soap making using extraction techniques to extract the smell of essential oils partnering with local lodges who can buy their products made.

While biogas is not new technology there are always challenges to overcome. The main problem being -overcoming the social perceptions related to the use of manure or sewage for an everyday activity such as powering the home and various household related activities.

The story of Joseph who installed bio digesters on his farm that have been running for three or four years was told. He uses this to cook and to watch television. He is also able to use the manure for his farming as the processing of the manure helps to break down and release nutrients into the soils which are a benefit over using fresher manure.

With the emphasis on conversion and gas projects there has been a strong representation of chemical engineers. However there are many opportunities available for all other engineering disciplines to get more involved.

Getting involved:

1) Professional engineers can contribute on a technical level by joining one of the technical advisory boards in Gauteng, the Western Cape, and KZN. Members can also help volunteer their time on an organisational level by contributing their time to help run EWB-SA -- we are always looking for people to help with social media, administrate programmes like the HCD course and project management, and host events.

2) The easiest way for university students to get involved is by contacting one of the university chapters closest to them. Otherwise, they can always contact us.

3) Companies interested in working with us can contact our CEO (Jason Huang ( and we can see how best we can work together. We're looking to expand our presence and it's not always about money.

Original article: Danielle Bearman from SAIChE IChemE Gauteng Member's group. Contact SAIChE IChemE:

Edited by Dhruti Dheda


Empowering Engineers to Empower Communities

2018 | EWB-SA is a registered non-profit company | NPC 2013/014531/08

Engineers Without Borders International

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software