Engr. Jeffrey T. Dellosa, Navigatu's Project Leader, was one of the two representatives from the Philippines who joined the recently concluded conference on “Problem-based Learning: Teaching Engineers to Tackle the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” held at the Country Hall and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), Prince Philip House in London, United Kingdom early this March 3-4, 2020.
The conference brought together select and leading engineers, entrepreneurs, university professors and awardees (Africa Prize of the RAEng Program) from across the world supported by the Newton Fund and the Global Challenges Research Fund and highlighted RAEng’s present efforts to solve the rapidly-evolving and increasingly wicked and complex challenges in the world today.
Engr. Dellosa’s attendance to the conference was sponsored by the same organizations through the Leaders in Innovation Fellowship (LIF) Program. Prof. Dellosa is a LIF fellow having completed the LIF program in 2019. Prof. Dellosa is also the Director of the Technology Transfer and Licensing Office (TTLO) and at the same time the Manager of the Innovation and Technology Support Office (ITSO) of the university. Attending the conference is his second time in the Royal Academy of Engineering in London, UK. Mr. Kenneth Kim, Founder, and CEO of BioTech-in-a-Box (BTBox) was the other participant from the Philippines.
Professor Peter Goodhew, one of the Academy’s Fellows, Professor at the University of Liverpool and presently the Chair of the Engineering X Program welcomed the participants during the first day of the conference. He explained the important role that engineering will play in achieving the SDGs. He emphasized that the goal of the conference is to bring engineers to discuss how to make significant progress with the SDGs for the next 10 years. By gathering them in the conference achieved the first tasks, but discouraged in jest the shaking of hands and getting too close due to the current situation on the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.
The SDGs, which started out as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 where 189 countries met together to find ways to eradicate global challenges such as hunger and poverty, are goals set to continue solving these problems by the next 10 years (or in 2030), as the deadline set by the countries. According to UNDP, the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. he 17 SDGs are integrated—that is, they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability.”
The first speaker of the conference after the opening remarks of Prof. Goodhew was Dr. Scott Strachan, Senior Teaching Fellow, Electronic and Electrical Engineering from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
Dr. Strachan delivered a presentation on the Problem-based learning – teaching engineers to tackle the SDGs, but focused his talk on the “Vertically Integrated Projects for Sustainable Development (VIP4SD)”.
Dr. Strachan also highlighted the Research-Based Education (RBE) model as implemented in their university for students to tackle the ever-pressing problems anchored on the SDGs. He emphasized the embedment of the Engineering for Sustainable Development (ESD) in engineering curricula. He shared that by 2030, we need to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others through ESD.
Dr. Strachan stressed that the challenges in the SDGs won’t be achieved by business as usual, and that we needed to change our behavior, our environment, how we treat each other, and the way we work and do business. He encouraged university professors to disrupt the way we teach engineering students, the way we let our students ask questions and that we needed to advance the teaching and learning process by stimulating students to ask thought-provoking and unconventional questions, for students to be cooperative rather than competitive, and finally introduce an approach that are more interactive, explotary, action-oriented, problem-based, experiential and transformative learning.
After the opening presentation, and tea & coffee break, breakout sessions and workshops ensued from the six transformations to achieve the SDGs wherein teams decided which among the SDGs they needed to work on: (1) Education, gender and inequality; (2) Health, wellbeing and demography; (3) Energy, decarbonization, and sustainable industry; (4) Sustainable food, land, water, and oceans; (5) Sustainable cities and communities; and (6) Digital revolution for sustainable development.
The LIF and the African Prize went through a thorough brainstorming on how to promote education in solving the global challenges anchored on the SDGs.
Following the workshops, Prof. Goodhew delivered his closing plenary talk for the day on the six transformations to achieve the SDGs. Thereafter, a dinner reception was held for the participants and a little bit of a networking event prior to the evening lecture and fireside chat held at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) at Savoy Place, London.
Dr. Hayaatun Sillem, the Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Academy of Engineering gave her opening remarks in the evening session. She introduced the resource person of the evening event having known him for quite some time.
Dr. Sillem introduced Dr. Guru Madhavan of the US National Academy of Engineering, the equivalent academy of the RAEng in the US. He was the plenary speaker during the evening session dubbed as the "Lecture and fireside chat" with his talk on Transforming engineering education for the 21st century - wicked problems and the engineers who will solve them. A system engineer by background, Dr. Madhavan received his M.S. and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and an M.B.A. from the State University of New York. He has “served as a technical adviser to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and has worked in the medical device industry as a research scientist developing cardiac surgical catheters for ablation therapy, and has been a strategic consultant for technology startup firms and nonprofit organizations”, according to his published bio at the National Academy of Engineering in the US.
Dr. Madhavan shared his talk mostly from his book titled “Applied Minds: How Engineers Think”. He touched on the engineers’ way of thinking and approach to design. He also touched on the topic “Solutions, Systems and Strategies”, wherein he highlighted that engineers continually provide solutions to present challenges; “Systems” for addressing system-level approach in rethinking engineering education and finally, engaging the engineers for defining strategies.
The launch of the Global Engineering Capability Review was the main highlight of the opening ceremonies during the second day of the conference and was held at the Royal Academy of Engineering, Prince Philip House, London, UK.
Professor Goodhew once again provided the keynote address for the day. Prof. Goodhew in his keynote address said that “we know that engineering offers an important lever by which countries around the world will be able to achieve sustainable development goals. This review is important because engineers and engineering cannot perform this role efficiently, effectively and safely without the appropriate infrastructures being in place, and this requires the shared understanding, cooperation and coordinated action of policymakers, educators, business executives and others.”
Prof. Goodhew continued by saying, “there is no ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ and countries struggle to address all the factors that can contribute to engineering strength and develop a pipeline of engineering talent that will match their growing and diverse needs. Engineering X has ambitious goals to help. We hope the Global Engineering Capability Review will help countries to learn from the achievements of others and to benchmark their progress towards remedying natural, economic and social problems in a safe and sustainable way.”
Ms. Antonia Kerle, the Project Manager of The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) in London, UK made the presentation of the report on the Global Engineering Capability Review. She reported that “we need to focus on producing high-quality engineering graduates and strengthening the global evidence base on the engineering workforce”. The findings are based on an extensive literature review and a comprehensive interview program conducted by The EIU between the months of June to October in 2019. More than 30 representatives from engineering associations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector and academia were interviewed.
The report expressed that the field of engineering is broad, evolving and integral to the promotion of human development and economic growth. Engineers play a critical role in designing and developing infrastructure, systems and processes that make the world safer, and ultimately support the achievement of broader social milestones such as the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As we enter the fourth industrial revolution, engineering will also drive innovation and help grow the digital economy.
The report further stated that policymakers, educators and business executives face two key challenges: first, understanding their country’s relative engineering strength; and second, identifying and addressing engineering capability gaps. The report begins by providing a broad assessment of countries’ engineering strength using the Engineering Index 2019. This framework measures the extent to which 99 countries are able to conduct engineering activities in a safe and innovative way. The report highlights top performers for each category or indicator, helping to explain unexpected successes and transferable lessons.
Based on the results presented, the following categories and the corresponding countries excelled in it:
· Knowledge – Malaysia
· Labour force – Iran
· Engineering industry – Rwanda
· Infrastructure – Panama
· Digital infrastructure – Estonia
· Safety standards – Singapore.
The Philippines placed 25th in the engineering industry and 36th on safety standards, 80th on knowledge, however, the report indicated n/a for labor force and 81st on Digital infrastructure.
According to the report from the Lloyd’s Register Foundation regarding the report, “Malaysia is the world's 23rd highest investor in R&D as a percentage of GDP (1.44%) and 24th in the world for patent applications with 1,116 filed in 2018. It also punches above its weight (at 19th) for the number of universities ranked within the world’s top 500 for engineering. This belies a global GDP ranking of 41 and reflects a strong emphasis on engineering in education”.
Following the presentation of the report, breakaway sessions followed on the different SDGs held at Al-Qasimi, David Sainsbury, National Grid, and Sir Kirby Laing among the venues. Topics from SDGs 1 to 17 were presented by different sharers among the participants.
The two-day conference concluded with a closing remark made by Dr. Hayaatun Sillem, the CEO of the RAEng. Drinks reception and networking event thereafter followed.
Opening Ceremonies at the County Hall, Belvedere Road, London, United Kingdom during the first day of the conference. Mr. Shaarad Sharma, Senior Manager, International Partnerships of the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) hosted the conference.
Dr. Scott Strachan, Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom was the plenary speaker of the first day of the conference.
Series of workshop with LIF and Africa Prize alumni during the day 1 event. From left to right: Mr. Kenneth Kim, co-Founder of BTBox from the Philippines; Dr. Petro Erasmus, from North West University in South Africa; Lateef Ayodele Sanni from the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria; Ms. Jennifer Rodriguez Esparza, CEO of VBraille from Colombia; Vivikanand Priyadarshi, Cofounder and MD at Tinkerly from India, and Dr. Sarah Kalil from the British University in Egypt; and Engr. Jeffrey T. Dellosa, Electronics Engineering Professor from the Caraga State University, Philippines.
Figure 12. Leaders in Innovation Fellowship (LIF) alumni. From left to right: Engr. Jeffrey T. Dellosa, Electronics Engineering Professor from the Caraga State University, Philippines; Prof. Haitham Safwat Kamal Hamza of Cairo University from Cairo, Egypt; Mr. Kenneth Kim, co-Founder of BTBox from the Philippines; Mr. Paulo Camargo, Executive Director of Innovation and Business Development in Viamaker Education from Brazil; Dr. Petro Erasmus, from North West University in South Africa; Mr. Jorge L. Garcia, CEO of Kuepa Edutech from Brazil, Mr. Lateef Ayodele Sanni from the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria; Mr. Diogo Garcia Cunha, Founder and CEO of Digo maker; Ms. Jennifer Rodriguez Esparza, CEO of VBraille from Colombia; Dr. Sarah Kalil from the British University in Egypt; Vivikanand Priyadarshi, Cofounder and MD at Tinkerly from India, and Ms. Christina Lisii, the Community Manager, Entrepreneurship for Development from the Royal Academy of Engineering, London, United Kingdom.
Participants from the Southeast Asian countries. From left to right: Engr. Jeffrey T. Dellosa, Electronics Engineering Professor from the Caraga State University, Philippines; Mohd Ridha Muhamad, Senior Lecturer at the University of Malaya in Malaysia; Dr. Sharizal Ahmad Sobri, Senior Lecturer at the Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) in Malaysia; Nina Diana Nawi, Senior Lecturer, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) in Malaysia; Dr. Waressara Weerawat, Assistant Professor, Mahidol University in Thailand, and Dr. Nattaporn Tonanon, Assistant Professor of Chulangkorn University in Thailand.
Note: Photos are courtesy of the Royal Academy of Engineering, London, UK.