Construction projects all over the world get help from Nordic engineers
Since the autumn of 2020, HeidelbergCement Northern Europe has been collaborating with Engineers Without Borders in Norway and Sweden. Now this partnership is continuing with construction projects all over the world. First up is a project aimed at investigating local building materials in Nepal.
“Whilst the pandemic put a stop to on-site participation in these projects, we’ve still been able to make a significant contribution via digital tools since we started the collaboration,” says Karin Comstedt Webb, Senior Vice President at HeidelbergCement Sweden.
One of these digital projects is Missing Maps, where employees [at company] within HeidelbergCement Northern Europe have been able to assist with improving the map quality in certain regions, in order to make life easier for aid organisations on the ground.
“It has been appreciated and rewarding, but we’d obviously prefer to be involved on site in Engineers Without Borders’ projects. That’s where our experience and expertise on climate work and material optimisation in the Nordic construction and civil engineering sector can really make a difference. It’s exciting that we’re now entering a new phase together,” says Karin Comstedt Webb.
Nepal first out
One project involving a physical presence has already been launched.
Magne Gravås from Contiga Norway, which is part of HeidelbergCement Northern Europe, normally works as a head of department. He’s been involved with Engineers Without Borders via his mentorship of Eline Sjølie Osmundsen, a ‘Meaningful Master’ student from NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology). Eline’s master thesis was linked to a development project in Nepal, where both she and Magnus Gravås went to gather information and make contact with local leaders.
Eline’s master thesis was originally meant to be about evaluating the possibilities of using local construction materials in Nepal (e.g. clay), which offer good solidity as well as a low carbon footprint. But unavoidable changes due to the pandemic meant her work was redirected to investigating different building materials and building techniques in Nepal.
“It felt very good to be able to provide support and guidance in the project, and also to be able to do this during working hours. It’s been a great privilege and very instructive to see how they work in the construction industry in such a different environment as Nepal,” says Magne Gravås.
“The collaboration with HeidelbergCement Northern Europe has been very rewarding and we’re now looking forward to even more opportunities to develop and improve regions around the world that need this kind of support,” says Caroline Bastholm, Secretary General of Engineers Without Borders Sweden.
The partnership will lead to the development of more sustainable infrastructure in vulnerable regions, with an emphasis on the efficient use of resources and increased use of technologies for building sustainable societies. The partnership agreement is now being extended for three years until 2025.
The fact that HeidelbergCement Northern Europe makes employees in its subsidiaries available for these projects during working hours gives Engineers Without Borders greater resources to be able to implement international projects and to boost interest in engineering as a career.
Examples of projects run by Engineers Without Borders: