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Energy Transitions Research at the University of Cambridge

Engineering a better world: CAETS conference 2016

Energy@Cambridge, supported by funding from the ESRC DTP as part of its programme of interdisciplinary activities, selected a number of University of Cambridge PhD students to attend the Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences (CAETS)’s Engineering a Better World conference on 13 September 2016.This was hosted by the Royal Academy of Engineering and held at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), in London. The conference brought together global engineering leaders, international development practitioners, policy makers, industry stakeholders, government officials, and early career engineers from around the world. The conference focused on policy, governance, collaboration, capacity building and how the capability of the engineering profession can help to drive progress towards global development and meeting the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

Chaired by journalist and writer, Rageh Omaar, the high profile speakers included H.E. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim (President of Mauritius), Amir Dossal (President and CEO, UN Global Partnerships Forum), Dr Shashi Buluswar (CEO, Institute for Transformative Technologies), Dr Mo Ibrahim (Founder and Director, Mo Ibrahim Foundation) and Dato' Sri Idris Jala (Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia and CEO of PEMANDU). The event included a personal video address from Bill Gates about the role played by engineering in supporting international development.

Dato' Sri Idris Jala discussed the Malay government’s steps in river front regeneration on governmental land. This led to the surrounding private river fronts to follow suit, with a net result of jobs creation, economic boost, a cleaner river environment and a highly sought after river-front area. Professor He Huawu (Former Minister of Railways, China) spoke  how engineers tackle some of the world’s greatest problems in a vast range of areas from health, communication and education to clean water and sustainable power, to deliver real social and economic change. The conference also emphasised the importance of more effective partnerships between engineering, government and development communities for sustainable development, gender equality and quality education. Most importantly, the conference was very interactive and engaged the audience through discussions with the speakers at the end of each session.

“This was a truly exciting experience for young people in public policy or technology to discuss their thoughts and experiences within their own countries and ask questions about their education, work opportunities, their perceptions of the challenges the profession is facing, and their thoughts on how they can respond to global challenges.

As a young engineer who received the opportunity to join this international gathering, I am thankful to the generous support from ESRC DTC funding to attend this invaluable event, as part of its programme of interdisciplinary activities through Energy@Cambridge.”

Donna Galhena, PhD candidate, Dept of Engineering, University of Cambridge



“I learned a great deal and was inspired by the innovative and creative solutions presented to think more broadly, be more socially conscious, and to work harder to produce inventive, pioneering ground-breaking research.”

Susan Shay, PhD student, Dept. of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge