Julian finds faith in floating latrines

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Julian O'Shea during a small scale solar lighting installation coordinated by Ilumexico, a local social enterprise, in a rural village in Veracruz, Mexico

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Floating latrines and dung-burning stoves are what occupy most of 27-year-old Julian O’Shea’s time these days, reports Southern Cross.

The Adelaide engineer is part of the not-for-profit international development organisation Engineers Without Borders. He was awarded this year’s St Vincent de Paul Society Louise de Marillac award for post-secondary leadership and service.

“I really wanted to use my (engineering) expertise to make a real difference,” Julian told The Southern Cross form Melbourne, where he is now based as the Curriculum and Research Coordinator for Engineers Without Borders Australia.

He is overseeing 15 projects involving about 50 engineering students from Australian universities in the design of engineering solutions to improve quality of life for disadvantaged communities in Australia and South-east Asia.

Julian says University of Adelaide engineering students are designing a stove for a Nepalese community which burns dung as a low-cost, environmentally friendly alternative. And at Melbourne University students are working on a floating “bio-digester” to reduce faecal contamination of Cambodia’s Tonle` Sap lake, which is a lifeline for 1.2 million people.

“When you travel, you are exposed to communities that experience a great deal more disadvantage than in Australia and I think technology has a big role to play in improving those living standards,” he says.

Julian collected his award from St Vincent de Paul Society SA President Dominic Lagana at the city office in August.

“Julian’s passion for influencing young people to engage with social justice issues is inspirational and we were proud to recognise his dedication,” said St Vincent de Paul Society marketing and public relations manager Rebecca Young.

FULL STORY Engineering life lines (Southern Cross)

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