Engineering podcast competition aims to change the world

The winner of the How to change the world engineering podcast competition has been announced, with US student Bethany Gordon taking the top prize.


A student at the University of Virginia, Bethany’s podcast explored how engineers could collaborate remotely to crowdsource practical solutions to humanitarian crises. It proposed using virtual reality to experience life in a temporary home in a shipping container in rural Armenia, the former Soviet republic that suffered a catastrophic earthquake in 1988.

Over 150 students took part in the podcast competition, which was hosted at the Global Grand Challenges Summit in Washington DC. Run by UCL’s Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (UCL STEaPP), the contest was jointly organised by the Royal Academy of Engineering alongside its US and Chinese counterparts.

“The audio element of the challenge really pushed the students to present their thoughts in a succinct and publicly accessible way,” said Dr Jason Blackstock, head of department at UCL STEaPP and director of How to Change the World.

“The teaching and judging teams were really excited to see how the students chose to communicate their ideas in a compelling way.”

Using a variety of different styles and techniques, the students presented their audio in a range of ways, covering topics from providing access to clean water, to public engagement, women in engineering, and eco-friendly digital technologies. A list of the top ten entries, as well as links to the podcasts, can be found here.


“Congratulations to these students for producing such fantastic podcasts,” said Dr Hayaatun Sillem, deputy chief executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

“They have taken discussions from the Summit, and developed them into thought pieces that show clearly how the student and professional STEM community can contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

Bethany Gordon (pictured), along with runners-up Yun Gu and Katie Brown, will receive fully-funded attendance at the next Global Grand Challenges Summit, set to take place in London in 2019.