What is the design challenge?

The College of Engineering and Physical Sciences has teamed up with Engineers Without Borders to bring our students an exciting design challenge project week, which takes place in the first term. 

The Engineering for People Design Challenge is a national project which we have been involved in for 3 years. If you get involved you will be tasked to design a solution to a problem that a community is facing. The solution must take into account the economic, environmental and social context. 

Throughout the week, you will be working in groups of 5 or 6 to share ideas and expertise to develop your solution. There are also skills workshops and opportunities for you to develop your professional skills, which can be added to your CV.

At the end of the week, each group presents their solution. The best projects will win prizes and get the chance to present their project in the project's finals. 

By taking part in the challenge, you will:

  • Gain an understanding of your role in the engineering community
  • Learn to consider the consequences of design decisions at both local and global levels
  • Learn how engineering underpins everyday life
  • Learn how to place people at the heart of your designs
  • Develop your practical engineering skills
  • Develop skills in communication, planning and project management, effective distribution of work and collaboration.

Who can get involved?

Foundation, first and second year students, from any College of Engineering and Physical Sciences subject areas are able to take part in the challenge. As it is delivered in the first term it is a great chance to meet new people. Information on how to get involved will be provided during Welcome Week. 

Engineering for People National Design Challenge

Our academics who support the Design Challenge discuss the benefits of taking part 

Past challenges 


The 2019 challenge saw 46 students working in 9 multi-disciplinary teams to create solutions to the sustainable development issues and problems in the diverse community of Maker’s Valley in Johannesburg, South Africa. Two teams from Aston were shortlisted to attend the Grand Finals. Worldwide Engineers (WWE) came up with a siphon tank solution to tackle the water problem in the community, and Aston Without Borders (AWB) came up with a new and innovative rainwater harvesting and filter connected to a solar-powered boiler system to provide safe and clean water to households.


The 2021 challenge saw students designing solutions they believe will most benefit the indigenous communities of Cape York, the largest unspoiled wilderness in northern Australia stretching over an area of over 220,000 km2. Students were tasked with looking at challenges such as improving the infrastructure or increasing access to clean energy and water.

Find out more here.


The 2022 challenge week saw 11 teams create a range of solutions with the aim of helping support the Govan Community Project, a community-based organisation working in south-west Glasgow to achieve social justice in the Greater Govan area by building a strong community based on equality, mutual respect, support, and integration.

The two winning solutions from the week were a ferry service across the Clyde to offer a low cost transport option which would reduce travel time into the centre of Glasgow for work and shopping and leisure, and the development of currently derelict spaces to create a community market and hub (inspired by the Birmingham indoor market).


Winning team with certificates