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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Jack Barrie, Darwin College, 2013-4


Jack graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2011 with a first class Masters in Civil and Environmental Engineering. As part of the 5 year programme, Jack completed a one year international exchange to the University of Queensland, Australia. He also completed an internship with Mott MacDonald and a 3 month research trip in Cambodia investigating the complexities of water supply. Upon graduation, Jack spent two years working in the international development division at Mott MacDonald, where he spent his time working on multi-million pound water supply projects in both Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Dissertation title:

A study on the diffusion of pay as you go solar technology in Uganda

Students report:

When I was first introduced to the course I instantly realised it was the type of course for me. I had spent two years working in an engineering consultancy focusing a lot of my efforts on technical design and I always had the feeling that I wasn’t quite grasping the bigger picture with regards to sustainability. I was always asking ‘why’ without getting any real answers. It was obvious to me that this course would allow me to spend a year asking ‘why’ and broadening my horizons in a variety of different topics within sustainability.

Upon reflection, this course has changed the path of my life in many ways - perhaps most importantly it has served as a turning point in my career whereby I have transitioned from working as a water engineering consultant to a project manager at a dynamic start up company (Azuri Technologies) that is the leader in providing sustainable access to energy for some of the poorest people in the world. Asides from my career, I gained immensely from the wide variety of fascinating people from all over the world that were on my course, all of which I consider friends for life.

The focus of my dissertation was on understanding how to better diffuse socially beneficial technologies in developing countries. In particular, I undertook a three week field study in Uganda, assessing the challenges of diffusing Pay as You Go Solar Home Systems. Based on this research, I was offered the job of project manager at Azuri Technologies. I am now applying all of my sustainability learning to every aspect of the business, ranging from technology development through to global distribution and business model formation in east Africa.


Photo Credit: Jack Barrie


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.