DELFT - Friday, 31 of January, 2020

EWB Design Challenge 2019 – Energy and Engineering

Join us for a full day of learning and networking with top professionals

1 day – 4 challenges – 20 teams

What if your ideas could enable affordable access to electricity in the poorest regions of the world? What about a solution for collecting and storing rainwater for the dry season? Or sustainable lighting for rural communities? 

Join our 1 Day Design Challenge and you’ll get to:

  • work in teams on life changing solutions for real problems that poor communities face
  • network and collaborate with professionals from top companies based in the Netherlands
  • attend an interactive storytelling workshop by Petra Beris, chair of Engineers without Borders NL 

Event details

During one day you will team up with other professionals from companies based in the Netherlands, to work on solutions for one of the four different challenges proposed by our partnering development or emergency aid organizations. We’ll make sure that you are part of a team with people from different professional backgrounds, because diversity fosters creativity. We’re curious to see what surprising solutions you’ll come up with!

At the end of the day, all teams will pitch their solutions and a jury will select the winning concept. The winning teams will be invited to develop their concept and implement the solution together with the organizations which submitted the challenges. So you will not only participate in an event, but you will get the chance to deliver a concrete project with real benefits for local communities. In the process, you will increase your awareness of social design aspects related to technology-based social innovations.

Lunch and drinks will be provided. Money raised for the event will be used to initiate projects based on the winning solutions.

Venue & Program

Date: Friday, April 5th, 2019
Signup closing date: Sunday, March 31st, 23:59 🙂
Venue: Stedin Rotterdam (near Blaak train station, see on GoogleMaps)

08:30 Registration and welcome coffee / pick up your badge
09:00 Opening by Stedin & introduction to the day by EWB
09:20 10 minutes of guided mindfulness meditation with Denise Jonker, psychologist and mindfulness trainer
09:40 Introduction of the challenges and forming the teams 
10:00 Ice breaker + start working on the challenges!
12:00 Lunch and storytelling workshop by Petra Beris, chair of EWB NL
13:00 Finalize your solutions and prepare the pitches
16:00 Pitch your solutions! (12 x 3 min)
17:00 Winner announcement and drinks

Meet our challenges


Rain Water Collection - Benin

Design, analyze and evaluate a sustainable solution for rain water collection and storage with local materials.

Partner organization: OAN International

Background: There is a lack of access to water during the dry season in rural communities of Benin.

Challenge:Design, analyze and evaluate a sustainable solution for rain water collection and storage with local materials.


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Sustainable lighting solution - Benin

Development of a sustainable solution for lighting for rural communities making use of local materials.

Partner organization: OAN International

Background:Nikki is a rural community in Benin with a total population of over 151 000 (2013 data), where the electrification rate is estimated to be lower than 18%, mainly provided by fossil fuel-based alternatives (e.g. diesel generators). While less than 1% has access to the main grid, which is highly non-reliable, the number of solar panels is increasing, but this solution is not accessible to the majority of the population. Moreover, there are around only 100 streetlights in the whole community, of which 78 are actually working.

Challenge: providing an alternative source of lighting to the locals; an affordable solution, locally manufactured, made out of local materials (or minimizing imported elements), and independent of fossil fuels.

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Mini grid park - Togo

Optimize the electrification of a mini grid park which includes next to solar also batteries and a distribution system in one of the villages of Togo.

Partner organization: JVE International

Background: Togo, situated in the West of Africa, has one of the lowest electricity rates in Africa and thus has one of the most acute need for electrification. In 2015, only 28% of the Togolese population had access to grid electricity, whereas this number was equal to 5% for rural areas. Togo’s government goal to achieve electrification rate of 50% in 2020, 60% in 2022, 70% in 2025 and more than 90% in 2030. As for renewables, government stated that the share of renewable energy in the energy mix, will be higher than 40% in 2020 and 50% by 2030.

Mini grids are an attractive solution to provide rural communities in Togo with access to clean and affordable energy. They have the biggest potential in regions where national grid expansion is not cost effective and thus not on the government’s agenda. By offering well designed energy service it can have a significant environmental and social impact to the communities by enhancing for example education, health care, food security and economic growth.

Challenge: For a microgrid completely powered with renewable technologies, how would you enhance the business activities in the rural community with the use of productive machines (mills, sewing machines, water pumps, etc.) without excessively oversizing the system and increasing the cost of the installation?

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Valorization of banana plantation by-product - Rwanda

An innovative Rwandan start-up likes to explore the ways of using banana by-products for giving life to new products. Supporting these small local banana farmers by valorizing their agricultural waste will empower these communities.

Partner organization: Africa in Motion

Background: The Lake Victoria Basin in which Rwanda is located produces over 14 billion tons of bananas annually and most of the crop (1/3) is wasted. 

Though banana is one of the main starchy food crop for Rwanda, the farmers are still faced with many constraints such as those   related to post harvest handling, processing, storage and   marketing. The narrow range of available improved post   harvest technologies leads to the farmers selling their products at low prices. The few traditionally processed banana products are of low quality and sometimes injurious to health.     Improvement of the  quality of these products will enable the farmer access upstate and international markets and improve  revenue.

Banana is a unique perennial single harvest plant. Its visible part, the pseudostem and leaves dies after it bears fruit to make way for the young budding plant (suckers) to rejuvenate from the rhizome. The harvesting of the fruit in plantation requires the decapitation of the whole plant so that the young suckers can replace the mother plant and these cycles can continue for unlimited generations.

Generally, banana by-products include the pseudostem, leaves, inflorescence, fruit stalk (floral stalk/rachis), rhizome and peels. Most of these by-products may serve as an undervalued commodity with a limited commercial value, application and in some cases, it is considered as an agricultural waste.

Challenge: Knowing that paper production is one of the commercial applications of banana by-products, an innovative Rwandan start-up likes to explore the ways of using Banana Stem for the production of paper and boards.

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Registration & payment

Early bird discount! Until the 17th of March you can get your ticket for €110/person.

After you submit the form, you can pay with Tikkie or transfer the participation fee to EWB bank account number: NL69 RABO 0192 3575 73. on the name of ‘Stichting Ingenieurs zonder Grenzen’. Please mention Design Challenge 2019 + your name.*

After the 17th of March, the cost to participate is €125/person. All revenues will be used for initiating projects based on the winning solutions. The participation fee is tax deductible (EWB NL has ANBI status).

There are maximum 80 places available, on a first come first serve basis, so hurry up and reserve your spot!**

    Your registration info


    Payment details

    *Within 7 working days from the date of your transfer you will receive the registration confirmation. Please note that after the 31st of March we will not be able to make a full refund in case of a cancellation, due to final arrangements.

    **1 week prior to the event you will receive an information pack from the organizing team to prepare for the challenges!

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    The Design Challenge 2019 event is sponsored by:

    Are you interested to sponsor the event or other EWB NL projects with your company? There are several possibilities, which will not only benefit your CSR but also support your people in leadership development and create impact by working on real challenges. Please contact us to discuss the possibilities through