Beating tough competition from a total of 28 university teams from across the UK and Ireland, University College Dublin impressed the judges and took home the top prize for their submission, Connectivi-Tree, which addressed the lack of internet access in Makers Valley. They received a £2,000 educational bursary.

Taking the Peoples’ Choice Award, which was voted on by the public, was the University of Sheffield with its project to convert a former industrial building into an apartment complex using eco-bricks made from non-recyclable plastic waste and concrete containing recycled glass.

Sustainable housing

The proposed design would deliver affordable and sustainable housing for up to 30 low-income families.

Emma Crichton, head of engineering at Engineers Without Borders UK, said: “We had a tremendous response from this years’ Design Challenge with some truly remarkable solutions and ideas that could address the urban-renewal challenges that the community of Makers Valley is trying to solve.

“As always, our judges were incredibly impressed with the student’s globally responsible approach to engineering and the perspective they brought on improving engineering education to serve the needs of all people and our planet.”

More than 7,000 students have been involved in the 2020 challenge internationally with the South African and USA competitions due to have their grand finals later in the year.

Now in its ninth year, the unique competition engages first and second-year university students to consider the social, economic and environmental impact of their engineering by inviting them to propose a solution that could be applied to a real-life problem affecting people on a global scale.

To date, more than 34,500 undergraduates have been involved globally in partnership with Engineers Without Borders SA and Engineers Without Borders USA.

To see the full list of entries, visit