Community Engagement Workshop

Building humanitarian engineering skillsets at IEEE Pakistan Congress

At the tenth edition of IEEE Pakistan Student, Young Professionals and Women in Engineering Congress in Karachi, more than forty volunteers from universities across the three SIGHT Section Groups of the country – Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi – engaged in a SIGHT community engagement skill building workshop. The Congress venue for this year was the Foundation of Advancement of Science and Technology, National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences (FAST NUCES) from September 30th to October 1st, 2016.

This workshop was primarily aimed at developing the thought process among engineers for global development, especially while working on projects in SIGHT groups. Inspiration for this workshop was drawn from the highly successful Human Centered Design Toolkit of IDEO.org, and the Engineering for Global Development course offered by Engineering for Change (e4c).

“Pakistan has a big youth bulge – around 60% of the population. It is important the young engineers in the country have the skills and knowledge on how to tackle problems in our own backyard. We have to fix our energy crises and breakdowns in health systems,” said Hassaan Idrees, one of the trainers.

Two case studies from IDEO.org were used: one, the challenge to improve healthy food system and two, to develop social entrepreneurship. These case studies were given to the groups, who were then taken thorough an activity set of discussing the ideation phase, to the planning process, and to the SIGHT logic model. The activities included intense thinking and discussions using a number of tools like the PESTLE analysis, which incorporates pertinent issues from political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental areas; risk analysis; budget development; and, project planning. The activity culminated in presentations by each team with their solutions, where they were grilled about the assumptions they made, and the solutions they proposed.

One participant, Hamza Baig, said “[The event was a] great experience, there was so much to learn. I suggest holding more of these workshops all over Pakistan.” On asking what could have been done differently in the workshop another participant, Muhammad Irfan Haider, said “We need to be practical in our thoughts, and should do a site visit to different areas for which we are conducting a study.”

The workshop presented the attendees the opportunity to take the learnings home, and implement them in more depth when working in their SIGHT Groups.

The team

Hassaan Idrees, Parkash Lohana and Amir Zahoor.