Women must be included in engineering design

Wednesday 8 Mar 2017

Andrea GoncherA Charles Sturt University academic and engineer believes women should be involved in engineering design to better solve problems from a variety of perspectives.

Dr Andrea Goncher, a lecturer for the CSU engineering course based in Bathurst, believes engineering solutions based on the  'human-centred design' design process  puts the design process in tune with the needs of the end-users of engineering solutions.

"We need to design solutions from the perspectives of end-users, and this includes women, who make up over 50 per cent of the population," Dr Goncher said.

"We educate future engineers at Charles Sturt University a little differently than other institutions. We teach our students to think systematically, solving important technical problems while also providing tangible contributions to our society.

"I think women are interested in, and particularly good at, thinking about problems holistically and developing strategies and processes for solving society's bigger problems. They make effective and innovative engineers."

EWB winning team 250x150Dr Goncher explains that the recent success of CSU students in the Engineers Without Borders Challenge in 2016 typifies this broader thinking.

"The winning team of two women and two men identified a design opportunity for a community that needed to address a waste management problem using composting organic scraps in a refugee resettlement in Zambia.

"Not only did they provide an engineered solution for the compost using locally available materials, but they also integrated the design solution into an existing children's education program to effectively educate the users of the design and bring their solution into practice."

Dr Goncher said their holistic approach and thorough research showed how the solution could be effectively made, used, and introduced into the refugee community.

"It encompassed all of the good principles of human-centred design. It is an excellent example of how careful thinking about how a design will be used in a specific community can lead to better adoption and engagement with the design," Dr Goncher said."I want CSU Engineering graduates to be equipped and empowered to tackle complex problems in society, and understand the role engineering and technology plays in solving global issues."


Media contact: Wes Ward, 0417 125 795

Media Note:

For interviews with Dr Andrea Goncher, contact CSU Media.

Dr Goncher will attend the International Women's Day event in Bathurst on Wednesday 8 March, starting at 10.30am at the Bathurst Panthers Club.

Ms Rebecca Wilcox, a member of the CSU's winning student team in the 2016 Engineers Without Borders Challenge, will also attend the Bathurst event and take part in a 'hypothetical' based on the theme 'Be Bold for Change'.