NEW YORK—Winners in five categories, from Hardware Trailblazer to Women Leading in Technology and Impact, were honored at the second annual Impact.Engineered Awards conference on October 11 in New York City. The conference and awards ceremony, conducted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Engineering for Change, took place at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering in Brooklyn, which recognizes and amplifies the role of engineers in solving global challenges.
Besides Hardware Trailblazer and Women Leading in Technology and Impact, winners were named in three other categories: Connecting the Unconnected; Companies Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals; and Rising Stars. Nine ASME Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) winners from South Asia, Africa, and the Americas were also honored and featured for their important contributions.
This year’s winner of the Hardware Trailblazer category is WaterHealth International (www.waterhealth.com), an Irvine, California-based company that provides scalable, safe, and affordable drinking water solutions to underserved populations across the world. A pioneer in the space, WHI has more than 700 operating units in the field, impacting about 10 million people daily with more than 60 million liters of clean water dispensed every month.
ASME Director Paul Scott was particularly impressed with WHI’s scale, affordability, and responsiveness to customer needs, calling the company “a trailblazer in the true sense of the word” with a technology and approach that were “ahead of the market.”
Women Leading in Technology and Impact
For many women in Latin America who never had access to high-quality education, jobs like web developer and UX designer are no longer out of the question. That’s because Laboratoria (www.laboratoria.la), a social enterprise co-founded by Mariana Costa Checa, the firm’s CEO, is working to equip women with the digital skills they need to thrive in technology. By training thousands of young women from underserved backgrounds as software developers and placing them in tech jobs, Laboratoria is helping to build a more inclusive and diverse industry while enabling women to transform their lives. Laboratoria has training centers in Peru, Chile, Mexico, and Brazil.
Impact.Engineered Judge Linda Raftree selected Mariana Costa Checa as the winner of the award, noting that Laboratoria’s work is “critical to filling technology opportunities with well-trained, capable women.”
“I’m a big advocate of diversity and inclusion in the technology space,” said Raftree. “With organizations like Laboratoria, there should be no excuse for not being able to ‘find’ women to hire. I really applaud Mariana and her team for this amazing and very relevant work!”
Connecting the Unconnected
Gram Marg (http://grammarg.in/) is a project undertaken at the Department of Electrical Engineering in the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay), in Mumbai, India. Gram Marg dedicates itself to technology innovation, such as TV White Spaces and unlicensed 5.8 GHz Wireless in connecting the unconnected. But it also addresses connectivity from a sustainability point of view by seeding the growth of community networks, multi-stakeholder partnerships, and in-depth impact assessment studies of how connectivity has changed the lives of people in remote, rural villages of India.
Impact.Engineered’s Connecting the Unconnected Award recognizes—and is expected to help—Gram Marg’s efforts to spur academic collaboration in research and development, technology innovation, impact assessment-related collaborations, connections to other teams working on similar rural challenges, and funding opportunities to enhance rural connectivity.
Companies Advancing Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were put in place by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 to address 17 global challenges related to issues such as poverty, hunger, clean water, and environmental degradation, as well as economic growth, industry, innovation, and infrastructure. Arup (www.arup.com), a London-based firm working across every aspect of the built environment, has made it a priority to use the Sustainable Development Goals as clear reference points for all of its projects. Named the winner in the Companies Advancing Sustainable Development Goals category, Arup aims to enable everyone at the company to understand not only the economic, but also the social and environmental impact of their work.
“While many other responsible companies also align their work with the SDGs, Arup does even more: They have established their own non-profit business,” said judge Carola Schwank, head of the Empowering People Network, on behalf of Siemens Stiftung. “[Arup is] an entity that partners with humanitarian and development organizations and assists them in optimizing the use of their resources to combat poverty and inhumane living conditions and to raise resilience and well-being. The proven expertise of their team of international development professionals makes them valuable partners for renowned players within the development sector, such as Habitat for Humanity or the Rockefeller Foundation. With successful projects in more than 30 countries, their humanitarian work shows global impact. They are real engineers that engineer a better life for many!”
New York City-based Bitae Technologies was one of the award winners in the “Rising Star” category. Bitae built a “digital backpack” platform that enables refugees and other vulnerable populations to carry their skills and experience with them in a secure, verified portfolio—a “digital CV” for the 21st century.
Bitae Technologies (www.bitaetech.com) aims to build human capital, self-reliance, and transferable skills for a generation of global, mobile talent. The organization believes that everyone should have access to education, work, and opportunities regardless of the borders that surround them.
The Rising Star Award recognizes the achievements and potential of emerging leaders who are leveraging technology to achieve social impact. Nominees for this I.E award are provided by ASME’s and E4C’s NYC-based community of technology incubators and accelerators and are recognized for their potential future impact in this sector. It is the only I.E. award that is chosen by event attendees.
Impact.Engineered (www.impact-engineered.org) is a one-day forum in New York City organized by ASME and Engineering for Change for the private, public, non-profit, and academic sectors. Amid a commitment to serving the underserved and meeting people’s basic needs, its aim is to advance the vital and increasingly urgent role that engineers and scientists play in addressing the world’s most pressing challenges.
ASME (www.asme.org) helps the global engineering community develop solutions to real world challenges. Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing, and skill development across all engineering disciplines, while promoting the vital role of the engineer in society. ASME codes and standards, publications, conferences, continuing education and professional development programs provide a foundation for advancing technical knowledge and a safer world.
Engineering for Change (www.engineeringforchange.org) is a global community and knowledge organization working to prepare, educate, and activate the international engineering workforce to improve the quality of life of underserved communities around the world. The organization accomplishes this by providing resources and platforms that accelerate the development of impactful solutions and ensure public health and safety around the globe.