Approaches to an engineering practice which is socially just

Format: Panel discussion followed by action planning

  1. Panelist: Sue Cavill
    Affiliation: Engineers Against Poverty
    Title: Toilets and sanitation
    Abstract: Toilets are fundamental to a peaceful and just society. Ghandi said that sanitation is one of the important things which reformers must tackle, more so than independence. Yet in 2006 it was estimated that 2.5 billion people did not have basic sanitation.  Why isn’t there greater accountability to these people and faster progress to overcome such highly unequal access to sanitation? The panel will discuss: how toilets contribute to social justice and peace; the scale of the problem; ways to achieve sanitation for all; the accountability of engineers, national governments and the international communities to the people they serve.
  2. Panelist: Jaime Arturo Bastidas Legarda

Affiliation: Universidad de los Andes

Title: “The creation of a National System of Attendance the Victims of Organized Armed Groups operating Outside the Law”

The Colombian conflict is the oldest conflict in Latin America and has caused more than 2 million internal displacements. The goal of the research was to determine the actual assistance that victims received and make a contribution to this assistance. This was possible using an Information System tool like Soft System Methodology. The key actors were members of: social organizations, institutions, political parties.

The proposal of this research is that the assistance of victims should be integrated into a national system victim of organized armed groups operating outside the law and two programs that could complement it. The first program would be an Integrated Care Center: this could offer victim care in cities with greater population densities. The Second would be an information system that would make access to all programs easier for victim’s witch would be offered

  1. Panelist: Darko Matovic
    Affiliation: Queens University
    Title: Composites plastics production by locally made machines: a hotpress challenge
    Abstract: Efforts to establish composite plastics production by local cooperatives are underway at several communities across the globe: in Argentina, Lesotho, Lebanon, India. The raw materials for such production are aboundant everywhere: waste plastics and natural fibers (either recycled cardboard, paper, agricultural residues or other plant material, e.g. agave fibers). A common challenge in establishing sustainable production is in access to production machines. A key piece of equipment neccessary for board-type products is a hotpress, capable of melting the composite under pressure, sufficient to bond plastics and fiber into a homogenized, mechanically resilient material. Such devices, commonly available in industrial facilities, are beyond the reach of the communities that subsist on waste recovery, the ones to benefit most from this value-added production. A Kingston hotpress, designed at Queen’s University, seems to fill that need successfully. This high-performance piece of equipment can be made at almost any locality around the world that has access to common structural steel profiles (“C” channels, “I” beams, round and square tubings) and simple welding, drilling and cutting tools. It can be built at cost of $1000 to $2000. The challenges of designing a rigid structure capable of supplying up to 200 tonnes of pressing force over the 60×60 cm work area, yet operated manually, are discussed. Successful tests on the prototype at Queen’s are followed by similar machines built in Buenos Aires (Argentina), Rhode Island (US), Maseru (Lesotho) and Perth (Australia).
  2. Panelists: Ebou Faye Njie and Andrew Fox
    Affiliation: Concern Universal/University of Plymouth
    Title: Promoting social equity for disabled people in Gambia
    Abstract: The Gambia is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa and also one of the poorest. It has a largely rural society with much of its population engaged in subsistence farming. Within the country there is very little welfare or support for people with disabilities, but there has been notable improvements within the legal and institutional framework of the country in recent years. This paper will chart the progress made in promoting social equity for disabled people in Gambia and highlight some of the most significant barriers that still remain to be overcome. The paper also provides an analysis of the extent to which the engineering community in Gambia has been involved in the process of changing attitudes towards the disabled. It concludes by developing a set of guidelines that the engineering community could use to extend and enhance the achievements made to-date in promoting equity for the disabled population of Gambia.