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Talking Point with Martin Blower

The Federation of Piling Specialists is teaming up with Engineers Without Borders-UK.

For most of us engineers our day-to-day job sees us working on some of the most extraordinary constructions as well as those that we take for granted – rail, utilities, office blocks and residential developments – yet how much time do we spend actually appreciating them for the benefits they bring to our lives?

We turn on a tap and water pours, or we board a train and it takes us to our destination without, I would guess, ever really thinking about them. This got me thinking about the role engineering and engineers play in changing and improving the lives of people, especially developing communities, around the globe. It has oft en been argued that engineering saves more lives, or certainly improves them, than any medical scheme. Build a dam to provide water and thousands of lives are saved; and the subsequent irrigation makes land fertile to farm and feed people relieving famine and hunger – all though engineering.

This year marks the Federation of Piling Specialists’ (FPS) 50th anniversary and we thought it would be fitting to honour the anniversary by getting involved in a project or activity that would deliver a lasting legacy, one that might change the lives of people in a way that we take for granted. After much discussion, it was decided to partner with the humanitarian organisation Engineers Without Borders-UK (EWB-UK) and sponsor a number of professional placements with them through its 2015 programme. For those that don’t know, EWB-UK is a non-profit organisation that empowers engineers to remove barriers to human development, by partnering with communities across the globe to help them meet their basic needs, through the design and implementation of sustainable engineering projects.

Engineering is fundamental to solving many of the issues facing developing communities across the globe

Our partnering sees us fund a number of member volunteers for three, six and 12 months placements through 2015 on many exciting international projects. Good engineering is fundamental to solving many of the issues facing developing communities across the globe and we feel that partnering with EWB-UK is the best way of showing support for the solving of these issues and at the same time promoting the important role engineers themselves play too.

I appreciate we don’t all have the time or resources to commit to such schemes, but I thought it was worth highlighting and reinforcing EWB-UK’s message of the role engineers play in many of the humanitarian endeavours world-wide. We engineers and the engineering we bring can really make a difference and for those who have the time and interest I would strongly urge you to look into projects and activities of organisation, such as EWB-UK and see how you or your organisation can get involved.

If nothing else, reflect on the way engineering really does change people’s lives and how you, without thinking too much about it, contribute to generally improving world in which we live. 

For more information about the FPS Sponsorship of the EWB-UK and how to get involved or volunteer for the 2015 Professional Programme, email fps@fps.org.uk, visit www.fps.org.uk or www.ewb-uk.org/programmes.

Martin Blower is chair of the Federation of Piling Specialists. 


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