December 6, 2012
The E4C Webinar Series connects people and ideas
contributor: Rob Goodier
Engineering for Change’s Webinar Series is gaining momentum, bringing together hundreds of people for interactive presentations with thought leaders in sustainable development. Each month, we have been honored to present – free of charge – influential members of the international engineering, design and technology communities.
The webinars have connected people to ideas, and they have also connected people to other people. Two of our presenters met through their work with E4C and have teamed up to teach engineers how to design and work effectively in emerging economies. Emily Braucher, founder of ReFresh Intercultural Communication in Denver, Colo., and Nathan Johnson, a mechanical engineer at HOMER Energy, LLC, in Boulder, Colo., delivered their first lecture together to engineering students at the University of Colorado in Boulder (their lecture slides are available here [pdf]).
E4C’s Webinars in brief
IEEE members can earn one Professional Development Hour credit for participating in a live or a recorded webinar. Just send an email with the webinar title and the code shown when it concludes to firstname.lastname@example.org.The partnership draws on Johnson’s experience in participatory development and Braucher’s experience in development, human rights and cross-cultural communication for researchers. The lectures bridge a gap between traditional engineering and design for development, Johnson told E4C.“Often, qualitative and quantitative is not fully understood by engineers due to communication barriers between cultures, and thereby the resulting designs of products and processes fail,” Johnson says.
Learning from those past failures, Braucher and Johnson teach engineers how to understand the needs of people in different cultures and ultimately improve their designs.
“We really emphasize the importance of working with the end user, and learning a way to build trust and communicate across a cultural divide,” Braucher says.
An instructive archive
Braucher and Johnson each have a recorded webinar in our archive, and each month we’re adding more. For example, in advance of the Rio Plus 20 talks in Rio de Janeiro that aimed to plot the course of sustainable development, we featured two innovators in renewable energy, Drew Corbyn, an energy analyst at Practical Action and Evan Thomas founder of Manna Energy and the director of SWEET lab at Portland State University. (Rio + 20: Sustainable energy for all)
We were also proud to present Yi Wei and her work with IDE Cambodia. Wei introduced a survey tool that has informed toilet design in rural Cambodian villages and it could have more general uses in appropriate design worldwide. (Revo-LOO-tionary toilet design)
Live tweets and speaker updates
You’ll find a description of each upcoming webinar, plus a list of archived recordings of past presentations at the webinar series’ online hub, www.engineeringforchange-webinars.org. We’ve also archived past webinars in a playlist on our YouTube channel.
We announce the month’s speakers and the new registration links on our social and in our monthly newsletter. You can sign up or follow us using the links in the sidebar in this article and the other sidebar on the left of this page.
We also live tweet highlights from the webinars as they happen. Tweeters can follow us at@engineer4change or search for #E4Cwebinars.
Francesco Piazzesi, founder of ¡Échale! a Tu Casa works with underserved communities in Mexico and other Latin American countries to hire architects, secure financing and grants and build their own houses out of compressed earth blocks.
John Akudago highlighted his work at the Pacific Institute in our webinar on choosing the best water technologies for rural communities.
Engineers based in North American receive one Professional Development Hour for each webinar, recorded or live, that they view. Certification is awarded by IEEE. Send an e-mail to email@example.com with your name, webinar title and webinar code, which appears during the webinar, to receive a PDH certificate by email.