Organic ash soap wins Engineers Without Borders NZ First Year Design Challenge

Four talented first-year engineering students from Massey University won the Engineers Without Borders New Zealand (EWBNZ) First Year Design Challenge last weekend with their solution to a development problem in Cameroon – organic ash soap.

Hosted at Beca House in Auckland, the EWBNZ First Year Design Challenge finals saw six teams of aspiring young engineers from Massey University, Auckland University of Technology and the University of Canterbury, present their solutions to this year's challenge to solve a problem related to the development of a village in Cameroon.

They were judged by Rob Cardwell from EWBNZ, Scott Elwarth from Auckland Transport, and Beca's Civil Engineering Senior Associate Dale Paice.

The winning team 'Eleven Inc.' from Massey University included Ayumi Sleegers, Darryn Wells, Taite Shephard and Yaser Tamimi. They discovered the village Bambui in Cameroon had a substantial hygiene dilemma and that many diseases and conditions could be easily prevented or controlled through appropriate cleaning techniques.

Their solution – 'Organic Ash Soap' – is a low-cost, innovative answer to third-world personal hygiene. Made from easily attainable, locally-sourced organic and waste materials such as coconut oil and firewood ash, the soap helps improve hygiene practices in developing communities, thereby reducing the risk of disease. The product also empowers local communities by creating avenues for businesses to make, market and distribute the soap both locally and internationally.

Team 'Eleven Inc.' will now travel to Australia in December to compete in the regional finals against teams from Australia, UK and Ireland.

About Engineers Without Borders

Engineers Without Borders is a non-profit organisation that aims to connect, educate and empower people through humanitarian engineering. Humanitarian engineering uses a people-centred, strength-based approach to improve community health, wellbeing and opportunity.

The First Year Design Challenge provides first-year engineering students with the opportunity to learn about design, teamwork and communication through real world, sustainable and cross-cultural community development projects.

Want to know more?

Visit the Engineers Without Borders website for more information about the University Challenges, the work they do, and how you can be involved. Beca is a key corporate partner of Engineers Without Borders New Zealand. Through our partnership and active volunteers providing pro-bono engineering assistance, we aim to work together to help transform and empower communities in need.

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