Student engineers new global awards

Rebecca Dracup is the co-founder of an international awards system.
Rebecca Dracup is the co-founder of an international awards system.

Last month the Subiaco resident flew to California with fellow founder Andrew Perren to co-ordinate the inaugural awards at the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference.

Ms Dracup said she built trophies from scratch in her garage, orchestrated the presentation and self-funded her flights, accommodation and conference ticket.

‘I’ve been really interested in humanitarian engineering, but it was very hard to find successful projects to look up to,’ she said.

‘I thought: ‘There’s got to be inspiring projects out there, let’s go looking for them’. So, Andrew and I came up with the awards as a way to increase awareness, especially among young engineering students, about the alternative uses of engineering in a different context to industrial countries like Australia.’

Ms Dracup said it was incredibly difficult to organise some of the world’s top engineering professionals to judge the finalists from her laptop at home.

‘The most stressful part was staying up in the early hours of the morning for Skype meetings with people in India, the UK and US ” sometimes all at once,’ she said.

‘There were many times we thought: ‘This is crazy, why are we doing this?’

‘It was at the expense of a lot of uni work and my social life. But it was worth it in the end to see it come to fruition and have everyone really pleased and thanking us for our work.’

Ms Dracup said the Global Humanitarian Engineer of the Year award was given to Ashifi Gogo for his Sproxil system that allows people in marginalised or poverty-stricken countries to scan bottles of medication.

Millions of people die each year from fake malaria and tuberculosis tablets made of cement paste or glue, she said.