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Doctoral Researcher Attends Royal Academy of Engineering Workshop

last modified Jul 24, 2019 12:16 PM
From the 28th – 31st May, FIBE doctoral researcher Francesca O'Hanlon attended the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Frontiers of Engineering for Development symposium. The theme of the symposium was ‘WASHing Away Inequalities’.
Doctoral Researcher Attends Royal Academy of Engineering Workshop

Francesca O'Hanlon

The event was held in Mexico City, and brought together early-stage academics and practitioners from the WASH sector to discuss the role of infrastructure, design and project implementation in improving WASH access to the world’s most marginalised groups. 

Alongside presentations from leading WASH practitioners and academics, much time was dedicated to collaborative discussion, and several researchers discussed how to best carry out research in low-resource settings.

There was consensus that researchers must ensure they prioritise follow-up communication when assessing WASH access at a community level. Too many communities feel betrayed and confused by ephemeral research visits where findings and recommendations from research are not relayed back to the community in question.

Commenting on the discussions in the symposium, Francesca noted that;

'There are new challenges to be faced, notably population growth and climate change, but access is improving for marginalised populations as global awareness of the challenges grows. Mexico City, a megacity that still today faces serious water security challenges due to underdeveloped infrastructure and overexploitation of local water resources, was a fitting location for such a well-organised symposium.' 

The symposium is part of an ongoing series of events run by the Royal Academy of Engineering on the 'Frontiers of Engineering for Development'. You can find out more about Francesca's research here and her work with Blue Tap here.

Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.