Engineering Positive Impact

positive impact

Engineering Positive Impact

Engineering at the ANU has a strong history of alumni and students working to create positive social impact through engineering, technology, education, and policy.  Graduates have worked across a range of development and humanitarian organisations - from establishing their own not-for-profits and social enterprises, volunteer work domestically and internationally, to working for large multi-national agencies and organisations with a social mission, or seeking to create positive impact through their technology.

Alongside this, ANU has been central to the development of Humanitarian Engineering in Australia over the last decade.  From developing and piloting a national undergraduate research program with Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB), to offering the first dedicated course on Humanitarian Engineering in 2015, to now offering a Humanitarian Engineering minor, ANU engineering is nurturing a new generation of engineers to improve human well-being and quality of life through engineering and technology.

This session will bring together a panel of alumni and current students who have worked in diverse ways to support positive human impact through their work. They will share stories, pathways, and ideas with people motivated to work in humanitarian engineering or incorporate it into their work. The session will also outline a proposal to establish an Engineering Positive Impact Hub (E+i Hub) at the ANU as part of the Reimagine investment.  It is an open invitation for input, ideas, and suggestions for this Hub, as well opportunities to engage in its development and operation.


Jeremy Smith, Senior Lecturer, Research School of Electrical, Energy and Materials Engineering, CECS Reimagine Fellow, BIT/E (1997), MPhil (2004), GradCert (2010), PhD (2019)

Jeremy has been a staff member or student at the ANU since 1993 including undergraduate, postgraduate, research assistant, systems engineering, lecturer and entrepreneur.  In 2007 he championed the development of Humanitarian Engineering education at the ANU.  Since then Jeremy has developed the national EWB Undergraduate Research Program, delivered the first dedicated Humanitarian Engineering subject in Australia, and supervised over 50 final year individual research projects in the area.  At a national level Jeremy has helped established national networks and groups to further support and develop Humanitarian Engineering education and practice in Australia.

Sarah Callinan, Tuckwell Scholar, President ACT Chapter of EWB Australia, current BE student


Don McCallum, BE ’96, Development and Engagement Manager, NSW Smart Sensing Network

After graduating and travelling around Australia, Asia and Europe, Don got stuck in the high-tech cluster of Science Parks around Cambridge England, where he received a PhD in 3D Printing in 2007.  From 2010 to 2016, Don was a Logistician and Project Manager in Africa and the Middle-East in project coordination, strategy and technology in extreme environments and emergencies for non-government organisation Medecins Sans Frontiers.  Don has worked in over 20 countries and visited a further 50.  Don is now a consultant engineer to research, industry and government, with current projects in sensing water pipes, screening for COVID-19 and recycling.

Huy Nguyen, BE (Hons)’10, CEO and Founder, Enabler Interactive

Huy has championed innovation and technologies to support accessibility and inclusion in Australia and the region.  He has established a number of social enterprises to create better disability services and support workers.  Huy has been recognised for his innovations, commitment and passion through awards including ACT Young Australian of the Year 2014, Australia National Disability Awards 2013, ANU Young Alumnus of the Year 2014 and in 2018 was a Myer Innovation Fellow.

Rebecca Watts, BE (Hons)/BComm’15, Founding Principal at Barrenjoey Capital Partners

Rebecca was the first student at the ANU to complete an EWB Design Summit, enrol in the Engineering for a Humanitarian Context course, and complete a final year Undergraduate Research project with EWB.  From this, and more, she was awarded the 2016 ANU Undergraduate Student of the Year.  Upon graduation Rebecca worked with EWB Australia supporting rural energy projects in Cambodia and has since worked around energy, finance and investment.  Through roles as a Global Shaper, with Engineers Australia, and EWB, she advocates for youth and underrepresented voices to be involved in shaping the future.

Jessica Weakley, first year BE student

Jessica is a first-year student undertaking a double degree in Engineering and International Security Studies with plans to become a humanitarian engineer, and work in aid and disaster relief in developing countries. Aside from studying, Jessica am involved in the Engineering community through the ACT Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, where she volunteers as a Schools Outreach and Mobilisation Officer.  One fun fact about Jessica is that her initial passion for Engineering and appropriate technology came through a Robotics Competition called First Lego League, where Jessica got to represent Australia at a 2019 World Tournament!

Date & time

5–6pm 4 Nov 2020


Internal speakers

Dr Jeremy Smith
Sarah Callinan

Updated:  10 August 2021/Responsible Officer:  Dean, CECS/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing