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Presidential Address to members in Australia and New Zealand

The Humanihuts are currently being used to provide a resting place for Australian firefighters tackling the ravaging bushfires.

Natural disasters, political disturbances, warfare, among other emergencies sadly occur all too often, leaving hundreds and thousands of people homeless and in danger.

Thanks to a combination of innovative engineering, careful design, and a passion for humanitarian care, some incredible creations come to life to alleviate these situations.

One such creation is built by Humanihut, an Australian company that has put together a one-of-a-kind, bespoke solution for refugees and emergency service workers alike: a rapidly portable emergency shelter system.

The company's Humanihut Field Infrastructure System (HFIS) is environmentally friendly, operationally easy, and cost-effective.

What is a Humanihut?

Humanihut creates quickly deployable accommodation solutions that provide shelter, safety, and comfort to exhausted emergency services workers, and refugees, among others.

There are approximately 67 million people worldwide directly affected by the refugee crisis alone.

Unlike temporary pre-fabricated shelters, the HFIS is completely bespoke, durable and provides an actual roof and walls for those sleeping within it — something that's invaluable when living in harsh conditions and extreme weather.

Furthermore, these huts come equipped with showers, toilets, and electricity.

When buying a new car, for instance, you have the base price for the vehicle, then you can choose a specific colour, interior design, specific tires, and lighting and stereo systems, making it bespoke to your needs.

Humanihut's HFIS operates similarly, you can choose the simple hut structure, and then you can select the exact layout you prefer, if you wish to have common areas, bathrooms, dining areas, and many extra add ons based entirely on your needs.

Humanihut's main point of difference, however, is its portability. To provide shelter for one hundred people it takes less than 10 minutes and only five people to put its HFIS together once on site.

Brought on site via 20-ft shipping containers for ease of transport, which can each carry up to eight huts (each of which can house up to eight people), the 'buildings' themselves are easy to put up.

A company representative does not even need to be on site unless the huts are being strapped into power and sewerage systems.

The accommodation systems essentially 'click', or pop up, into place, much like Lego pieces or pop-up tents, providing a vast range of structures.

These mini-cities can house up to 2,500 people with power, water, and sewage thanks to their partner Global Water, and are built in just three days.

Truly utilising every bit of space, Humanihut then uses the shipping containers as part of their shelter systems, using the empty containers as a bathroom with two toilets, two basins, and two showers.

The huts can then be redeployed in the same amount of time after. If no direct local resources are available to link the huts to electricity or water, the company also offers portable systems.

Another fascinating aspect of these shelters is their lifespan: they last up to 20 years — value for money comes to mind here.

Some of their current uses include accommodating 128 firefighters who have been battling against the ravaging bushfires in Australia, and in the past they've sheltered refugees from East Timor.

Toby Harden, vice-president EMEA of Humanihut, told 'Interesting Engineering' that there's huge interest from around the world for the huts:
• The French, Greek, and Italian governments
• The US, who are looking to use the huts as accommodation for people left stranded after the many hurricanes and tornadoes that hit the nation yearly
• The United Nations Disaster Immediate Response Team, Global Dirt, among others

What are they made of?

"Just because we look like a steel box, does not mean that we are just a steel box," says Harden.

Each foldable hut is six metres (19.6ft) long, 2.2 metres (7.2ft) high and 2.2 metres (7.2ft) tall, with solar panels on the roofs and wiring for electricity outlets.

The steel walls and roof, which are 33mm thick, and 50mm thick respectively, are insulated to keep the temperature controlled in either hot or cold weather, and include fire retardant.

Clearly, not just a steel box.

The panel frame is powder-coated extruded aluminum, the floor frame is fully welded with a steel-painted sub-frame, and the flooring is 18mm grain marine-grade plywood.

Each hut comes with a built-in table, bench, and sink.

Environmentally speaking they're fantastic. As they're only placed above ground, once they're removed there is no left-over damage. As Harden says, "we work with nature, for nature".

Merging intelligent engineering, humanitarianism, and innovation can truly bring about incredible designs.

It's easy to see how Humanihut won the Engineering category of Australian Good Design Award in 2018, and the Design Strategy at South Australian Business Council Design for Export Arward in 2019.

This article was written by Fabienne Lang and is reproduced with kind permission from Find the link to the original article here.

One-of-a-kind Humanihut emergency shelters set up in less than five minutes

He could easily have been a farm manager but his first love is construction and airports; his mentors include Michael Corless and Sir John Egan, while he admires The Shawshank Redemption's Andy Dufresne; he's excited about digital engineering and the progress to 7D; and his two Irish Water Spaniels and Aussie Rules keeps him grounded.

Joe Walsh, chair of Engineers Ireland's Australia/NZ Region, is director of aviation at Hatch for the Australia-Asia and Africa, Europe, and Middle East regions.

He leads the development and expansion of Hatch’s aviation practice, building on past Hatch aviation projects in Australia and South Africa.

With 28 years’ experience in the aviation sector, Walsh has worked for airport clients and consultants, most recently as project director airports and airports market lead at Beca. He is a former managing director of Galway airport.

Joe Walsh, global director of aviation, Hatch, Melbourne, Australia.

His roles ranged from operational airport management to project, design, and construction management of major airfield infrastructure projects across the globe, including the UK and Ireland, Hong Kong, and Australia.

He holds a BE in civil engineering from NUI Galway and is a fellow, CEng, FIEI with Engineers Ireland. He is also a fellow, chartered professional engineer, and engineering executive of Engineers Australia.

1) When did you first become interested in engineering?
Growing up in a home with a retail (grocery) and farming (dairy) business, my parents had us involved from an early stage dealing with customers and working on the farm.

With a keen interest in maths, accountancy and an outdoor life, civil engineering – and specifically construction-related activities – seemed to tick all the right boxes.

NUI Galway also had an excellent reputation for civil engineering and it was on my doorstep – home being Portumna in east Galway. My brother had also completed construction management in Galway RTC (now the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology), so looking over his shoulder had an influence also.

2) Who were the mentors who helped you on your way?
I met my first mentor during a summer break working as a site engineer on a ground works project in the Isle of Dogs, London. Barry Smiley, the resident engineer for the project, gave me great encouragement in what I was doing and also provided me with a vision of what I wanted to become as a professional civil engineer.

On finishing university, I joined the BAA graduate programme (formerly the British Airports Authority). It had seven UK airports within its group: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Southampton, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Prestwick.

John Cairns was my supervisor during my civil engineering placement. Our paths have continued to cross over the past 28 years in several countries and I would consider John as being my most influential mentor in the aviation sector.

In my time at Galway airport, our then chairman, Michael Corless, a retired partner with Ernst & Young, was hugely influential and gave a huge amount of time and energy to the business. His approach and focus was on the development of business management and stakeholder engagement skills.

Today my managing director, David Moran, who has spent his career in the contracting environment and is now leading the growth and development of the Hatch infrastructure business in Australasia, is my newest mentor. It is very important for our continuing development as engineers to have mentors and, also, to act as one to the next generation.

3) Your engineer hero?
Bruce Benjamin who was the construction manager for the airfield works contract at the new Hong Kong airport. He was an inspirational leader with major multinational projects experience. Sadly, he passed away before his time.

British industrialist Sir John Egan.

4) An engineer you wish was better known?
All engineers who have ended up leading significant businesses outside of the field of their original degree. I would specifically mention Sir John Egan, former chairman of BAA, and a key player in the development of the New Engineering Contract (NEC).

5) Your idea of project heaven?
A project that has a clearly defined scope, realistic design programme and a collaborative delivery model which is reflected in the contract form and on the ground among the different players and their respective culture and behaviour.

6) And project hell?
Poorly defined scope, inexperienced contractor and adversarial approach to delivery on the ground.

7) What are your favourite engineering feats?
Hong Kong International Airport in Chek Lap Kok. My choice is heavily influenced by my involvement in this project.

Hong Kong International Airport.

Also, the Heathrow Express link because it has created a new underground rail link into one of the busiest airports in the world crossing under existing London Underground routes, and for its use of the New Austrian Tunnelling Method (NATM).

In terms of current projects, I would mention the Metro Tunnel in Melbourne, which will be transformational for the city.

8) What is/are the most important trend/s in engineering right now?
Digital engineering and the progression to 7D (whole of life cycle approach to project delivery driving digital models to the next level).

Resourcing and encouraging the next generation – especially at secondary level – to take up engineering subjects. As engineers and industry there is an obligation on all of us to enhance the role of the engineer in society.

With the evolution of artificial intelligence and machine learning, which will remove a lot of the more mundane/repetitious tasks, our industry has to evolve to create the next generation engineer who enjoys the challenges posed and drives change with technological advancements. Climate change issues across the globe will require engineers to come up with the solutions.

9) If you could, is there any one measure you would introduce to help improve the gender balance within the profession?
Engage with children in primary schools and have very clear role models for both boys and girls to emulate. Industry is taking more focused action on flexible working initiatives and I believe with an enhanced work/life balance that comes through this approach, careers in engineering will become more attractive and improve the gender ratio.

10) What book is on your bedside table?
Atomic Habits by James Clear. It drew my attention while reading the author's blog. It focuses on the formulation of good habits and the concept of the 'one percenters' – taking little steps and making small changes when it comes to habits can have a significant impact on your life.

The book Joe Walsh has by his bedside.

The concept of 'habit stacking' where you build on existing good habits using them as a trigger for new habit formation. The importance of the environmental setting when establishing new habits to be successful was also enlightening.

11) What is the one piece of advice you would give to somebody starting out in the profession?
Decide on your pathway as early as possible – be it a technical or management orientated role – and link it to key experience. Seek out your mentors to better understand decisions and, ultimately, to inform your choice.

12) What is your favourite film?
The Shawshank Redemption. I’ve watched it many times and still enjoy it. I admire the determination and focus of the lead character, Andy Dufresne, and his desire to help others despite his own challenging circumstances. Willpower and determination trumps all.

13) If you weren’t an engineer, what might you have become?
Having spent my formative years working on our family farm and having developed a strong work ethic from my parents, a role in the agricultural sector would certainly have been a serious option. It would probably have involved managing a large-scale agricultural operation – crops or dairy.

14) What is a typical day for you?
I get up at 4.50am to take the dog for her morning walk, then head to the gym (twice a week) for a 30-minute strengthening session (one-on-one).

If I have calls to North America then I try to co-ordinate these for 5am or 6am to catch the teams in the latter half of their day in Vancouver or Toronto.

Later, I will drive or take the train to our main office in Melbourne, spend the day with the infrastructure team and carry out general management activities, project delivery and business development.

The end of day can then involve calls to South Africa to catch the team at the start of their day. Being in Australia we have the ability to operate in all three regions in the day.

Cape Town, South Africa.

Hatch put a huge focus on flexible working and I’m actively co-ordinating working from home to engage with our teams across the various areas to drive the growth and development of our aviation business.

15) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
In a presentation to the group chief executive of Manchester Airports Group, Geoff Muirhead, who was also a civil engineer, as director of planning and development at Bournemouth airport I had a number of points to cover. The broader team were pushing to move on with the meeting but I persisted in covering the points. At the end of the meeting, Geoff noted to me on leaving the room that, “if you have something to say then say it”, and closed the remark by saying “well done”. This comment/moment has stuck with me ever since. For me, it’s all about adding value and encouraging engagement and contribution from the entire team.

16) What do you do to relax?
Life outside of work evolves around our two Irish Water Spaniels. They are a fantastic and engaging breed and hold a very special place in our hearts in Australia. My original dog, Tory, made the trip to Australia with us and was a huge part of getting established so far from home.

From a sporting perspective, rugby is a passion and I now proudly follow Ireland and Australia. Australian football is slowly taking its place in my sporting diary – it's an incredible game.

My engineering life Q&A: Joe Walsh

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