Canterbury students engineering better health in Africa

(Pictured left to right) From the University of Canterbury’s College of Engineering, student Grace Elliot, Mechanical Engineering Senior Lecturer Dr Debbie Munro, and student Ella Guy aim to use their engineering skills to improve global health.

(Pictured left to right) From the University of Canterbury’s College of Engineering, student Grace Elliot, Mechanical Engineering Senior Lecturer Dr Debbie Munro, and student Ella Guy aim to use their engineering skills to improve global health.

While others are at the beach this summer, two University of Canterbury (UC) engineering students will be working on improving health in Africa.

UC Mechanical Engineering students Grace Elliot and Ella Guy are departing for Uganda in mid-December as part of an Engineering World Health (EWH) programme.

Mechanical Engineering Senior Lecturer Dr Debbie Munro, who joined UC this year from Portland in the United States, is establishing medical engineering within UC’s mechanical engineering department.

“We are sending two students to Uganda this summer as part of a nine-week volunteer opportunity where students learn how to repair hospital equipment and then work at regional hospitals teaching the technical staff how to repair and maintain the equipment going forward,” Dr Munro says.

“Many developing nations receive donated hospital equipment, but it rarely arrives with any support for training personnel on how to use, calibrate, clean or repair the equipment and thus ends up stored in a warehouse for ‘someday’,” she says.

“The goal of EWH is to improve healthcare around the world by using this resource that already exists. Students gain a real-world understanding of the health challenges abroad and hands-on technical skills. They are also immersed in a cultural experience where they can learn the language and relate to people in an environment unique from their own. As the world becomes more global, these kinds of opportunities are essential for our future engineering leaders.”

The students will depart 16 December for the Uganda Summer Institute. They will spend four weeks in Kampala at the University of Makerere and nearby Mulago Hospital completing training on medical equipment repair, working with local biomedical engineering students, learning Swahili, and studying design.

“Grace Elliot and Ella Guy are UC ambassadors. We plan to develop our own EWH programme, which will allow 30 or more of UC’s engineering students to participate in this opportunity each year, starting in summer 2020,” Dr Munro says.

The students will take classes alongside Ugandan students, learning how to repair hospital equipment. The UC students will be part of a 35-student cohort of Australian students in an established programme that has been running for three years. They will return to Christchurch on 17 February 2019, just before the new UC academic year begins.

“There is a strong interest among UC engineering students to have international experiences, and this is a new one that we’re developing. It complements our Diploma of Humanitarian Engineering and our Engineers Without Borders programmes, which are more focused on civil engineering and water safety projects. EWH is in the medical device field and a better fit for our mechanical and mechatronics students with an interest in medical applications of engineering,” Dr Munro says.

This summer programme was established by the University of New South Wales through Engineering World Health (www.ewh.org). EWH educates and empowers young engineers, scientists and medical professionals from more developed parts of the world to use their engineering skills to improve global health and enables them immediately to provide meaningful service to patients in the developing world.

UC Commerce student chosen as Blake Trust Antarctic Ambassador

Harry Seagar

Harry Seagar

University of Canterbury Commerce student Harry Seagar is heading to Antarctica this summer after being awarded a Blake Antarctic Ambassadorship by the Sir Peter Blake Trust and Antarctica New Zealand.

The UC undergraduate heads to Antarctica on 4 February 2019 to live and work on the ice for two weeks. Harry, 21, says he feels incredibly humbled to represent the Trust and is excited to visit Antarctica. The Blake Antarctic Ambassador role will see him produce an ambitious environmental media project showcasing the scientific work carried out in the region and to give insight into day-to-day life in Antarctica.

“I can’t wait to get down there. My passion for pushing the boundaries while promoting the importance of our beautiful planet is what has driven me to pursue environmental projects like this one.”

Harry, whose BCom major is Strategy and Entrepreneurship, was selected from more than 100 applicants as part of an experiential learning programme led by Antarctica New Zealand.

Harry says promoting the unique environment is critical to gaining an understanding of how the world works and the impact humans have on it.

“Antarctica is the largest and most unique natural laboratory in the world for scientists. My project aims to promote not only this fact, but also the continent’s important past, present and future.

“Due to its connection with the rest of the planet via oceanic and atmospheric circulations, the Antarctic has a profound effect on the Earth’s climate and its future. The continent’s global significance really cannot be overstated.”

The uncertain future of Antarctica’s ice poses a serious threat to Earth if global temperatures continue to increase. In the new IPCC report, limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.

“The importance of Antarctica is by no means limited to the pressing issue of climate change,” Harry says.

“Antarctica has a rich history, a diverse global governance model and an array of people associated with this great continent, while having a unique and challenging physical climate. I plan to explore and discuss this in my project.”

Harry describes his time at the University of Canterbury as life-changing.

“The versatility of my Commerce degree has given me a broad skillset to pursue numerous creative projects in production, creative media, environmental and social change, business and entrepreneurship. Plus, I was determined to study at a university that allowed me to remain close to the mountains.”

As part of his degree, Harry created a limited edition wine label, Pride by Cliff Edge Wines, a venture that doubled as an experiment to test social entrepreneurship theories. Harry partnered the label with two environmental charities. He also played an integral role in Team Kea’s Bird of the Year campaign victory in 2017, as well as encouraging UC campus food outlets to become more sustainable, with the introduction of takeaway wooden cutlery last year.

New IPCC report marks ‘end of magical thinking’ about climate change - UC expert

Dr Bronwyn Hayward

Dr Bronwyn Hayward

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the IPCC said in a new assessment released today (2pm Monday 8 October NZTime). With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C could go hand-in-hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said today. 
 

University of Canterbury Associate Professor Dr Bronwyn Hayward was the only New Zealand Lead Author on the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, released today. She is an Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Canterbury, where she is also the Director of the Sustainable Citizenship and Civic Imagination research group Hei Puāwaitanga and Associate Dean of Postgraduate Research. 
 

Associate Professor Bronwyn Hayward gives her perspective on the IPCC report:

In my view this hard-hitting 1.5°C Global Warming Report marks the end of ‘magical thinking’ about climate change. 

The report is unequivocal, our climate is changing now. These changes are already affecting human wellbeing through extreme weather events and sea level rise, and risking far-reaching losses including coral reefs and Arctic sea ice.
 

For the first time, this IPCC report also places climate change within a social context, it asks how can we limit climate change and achieve other important related goals of sustainable development and reducing poverty?
 

The report makes clear that without unprecedented cuts to emissions now, we will have fewer opportunities to develop sustainably and will be required to rely increasingly on unproven, risky and possibly socially undesirable technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere in the future.
 

But to avoid climate warming above 1.5°C, we have to scale up action in unprecedented ways across all sectors of our economy and everyday life, over the next 10 years.
 

Warming – why 1.5 degrees?

The report estimates that temperatures have already risen by 1°C higher than pre-industrial averages and that our world is now warming at a rate of about 0.2°C per decade. 
 

This doesn’t sound like much but if we carry on like this, effectively the world will be warmed 50% more that it has already experienced, between 2040 and 2050, and some regions will feel the effects of these changes even more severely and quickly.

The report has also clear that avoiding a warmer future above 1.5°C will bring significant benefits for millions of people who will face significantly reduced risks of flooding, food insecurity and climate stress, including Pacific communities 
 

Avoiding a higher than 1.5°C warmer future matters to New Zealand in many ways – I want to highlight three:

  1. Implications for New Zealand’s coastal communities 

  2. If the world’s temperatures remain at or below 1.5°C the report suggests we could avoid an additional 10cm of sea level rise on average, over and above the trajectories we are already committed to by 2100. Here in New Zealand where many of our cities are coastal, this matters a great deal. As Tim Naish’s work shows, a 20cm to 30cm rise by 2060 is pretty much given due to warming from carbon already accumulated in our atmosphere. This new IPCC report underscores that 1.5°C to 2°C could trigger rapid melting of the Antarctic and Greenland with very significant impacts locally for much higher rates of sea level rise over time. At the very least a world warmed above 1.5°C has significant implications for New Zealand national adaptation planning. 

  3. Issues raised for New Zealand’s Farming Sector

The IPCC report also states that if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C and avoid “overshoot” we need to make “deep reductions” in methane – 35% by 2050 relative to the rates of emission in 2010 – and undertake targeted mitigation of nitrous oxide. Again, this presents New Zealand’s government and farming sector with difficult choices. We have some tremendous opportunities for reducing methane and nitrous oxide but the need for deep cuts in emissions raises far-reaching questions about stock and land use, and signals that we might expect significant shifts in terms of changing consumer behaviours towards more sustainable diets. 
 

New Zealand’s challenge to achieve climate resilient development 

The report is also clear that current national commitments to emission cuts are insufficient to hold the world’s climate to below 2°C. The report calls for far-reaching transitions across all sectors including how we use energy, land, urban and infrastructure (transport and buildings), and industrial systems and notes the need for a wide portfolio of mitigation options that carefully manage development to help communities already struggling, to develop equitably
 

The New Zealand government and the Opposition have already committed to debating a bill to create a New Zealand net carbon zero by 2050, but making this vision a reality presents tough challenges in a country which has historically relied predominantly on one policy tool – Emissions Trading – to address climate change. The implications of the report is that systemic, sustainable changes are required, for a low-carbon future. At the very least, this includes a wide range of life-altering actions across all sectors of our society and economy if New Zealand is to have a realistic shot at achieving climate-resilient development pathways which meet the future needs of all the community.
 

Dr Bronwyn Hayward would like to acknowledge the efforts of Dr Andy Reisinger, the New Zealand Vice Chair of the IPCC, and Ministry of Environment officials Dan Zwartz and Helen Plume who put in many long hours in the intergovernmental approval process for this Special Report.  
 

What is the IPCC?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in 1988 to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies. It has 195 member states. IPCC assessments provide governments, at all levels, with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. IPCC assessments are a key input into the international negotiations to tackle climate change. IPCC reports are drafted and reviewed in several stages, thus guaranteeing objectivity and transparency.

- Unversity of Canterbury

Cultural amnesia – the price of lost perspectives in NZ history

University of Canterbury doctoral student Madison Williams and her primary supervisor UC Associate Professor Te Maire Tau, Director of Kā Waimaero | Ngāi Tahu Research Centre. Associate Professor Tau says: “The danger in New Zealand currently is that our identity flies too freely, like a kite in the wind. It needs to be grounded by string or it floats away. This is what history can do for New Zealand, it can be the string to the kite.”     (photo credit: University of Canterbury)

University of Canterbury doctoral student Madison Williams and her primary supervisor UC Associate Professor Te Maire Tau, Director of Kā Waimaero | Ngāi Tahu Research Centre. Associate Professor Tau says: “The danger in New Zealand currently is that our identity flies too freely, like a kite in the wind. It needs to be grounded by string or it floats away. This is what history can do for New Zealand, it can be the string to the kite.”
 
(photo credit: University of Canterbury)

Ignoring iwi and hapū perspectives in historical accounts of Aotearoa New Zealand risks cultural amnesia and the erosion or even destruction of identities, says a doctoral researcher in the field.

University of Canterbury (UC) History student and recipient of a prestigious Canterbury Doctoral Scholarship and Ngāi Tahu Research CentreDoctoral scholarship, Madison Williams (Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō) is considering ways in which perspectives of iwi and hapū provide crucial perspectives and contributions to the historic record.

Her doctoral thesis about perceiving the past, A Living People’: Ngāti Kuia’s Nga Pou Aronui & the Relevance of History, critiques existing narratives and explores alternative views of history, particularly those of iwi and hapū.

A student in UC’s College of Arts | Te Rāngai Toi Tangata, Madi considers her research to be laying a foundation for future change, including how history is taught in the education sector.

“There is a prevailing one-people narrative where the past is seen as irrelevant, ‘we are all just New Zealanders now’, regardless of where we came from in the past,” Madi says.

“This current approach of promoting particular aspects of our past since 1840 has sought to erode any other historical experiences. Iwi and hapū experiences have been ignored and the Māori’ story has been created and woven into the New Zealand story.”

Her exploration of historical accounts over time include how early amateur historians in the 1800s focused on a narrative of exploration and settlement for Māori, prior to contact with Europeans. Likewise accounts of Gallipoli and a narrative around nationhood has perpetuated this sense of a singular sense of nationhood, she says.

A significant aspect of her research is the role of the Waitangi Tribunal | Te Rōpū Whakamana i te Tiriti o Waitangi. She notes the importance of the huge body of research gathered for the Tribunal.

“The Tribunal is a really interesting entity. Its goal is to redress the wrongs of the past, which has sometimes been perceived as creating a progressive history of biculturalism. However, it has created a huge source of information that means alternative views of history within iwi and hapū can be explored.

“We need to apply a different lens. How do you consider a sense of iwi history without considering whakapapa? Ideas of time and myth have immense value. Views of history by iwi and hapū don’t have the same sense of time as a Western sense of linear or chronological history.”

Madi’s primary supervisor UC Associate Professor Te Maire Tau, who is Director of Kā Waimaero | Ngāi Tahu Research Centre (NTRC), says Madi’s research has the potential to connect New Zealanders to their ancestry, be it Māori or not.

“The danger in New Zealand currently is that our identity flies too freely, like a kite in the wind. It needs to be grounded by string or it floats away. This is what history can do for New Zealand, it can be the string to the kite,” he says.

Associate Professor Tau says all NTRC students are encouraged to get in touch with their iwi, hapū and whānau, as there is a lot to be learned from the older generations.

“UC offers unique world-class opportunities to Māori students and those researching indigenous-based topics. The Ngāi Tahu Research Centre is a world-class indigenous research leader.”

Students have the opportunity to attend the annually held First Nations’ Futures Programme at Stanford University. It is an unrivalled opportunity for aspiring Ngāi Tahu leaders and other Māori postgraduate students to gain access to leading international research and thinking within a uniquely indigenous context, he says.

“NTRC and UC have a range of Māori and indigenous scholarships available, and offer support and supervision from our top lecturers and researchers,” Associate Professor Tau says.

Madi Williams’ key doctoral research questions:

  • How do Māori and Pākehā perceive the past? How does New Zealand as a nation perceive it?

  • How did the historical account take into account two different understandings of the past?

  • To what extent did the historical account from the Treaty Settlement process satisfy Ngāti Kuia?

  • What role does the past play in identity for Ngāti Kuia?

  • Are there more relevant ways for Ngāti Kuia to engage with our past?

 

- University of Canterbury

Canterbury engineer gains $1 million to create sustainable, seismic resilient foundation systems

A UC Smart Ideas proposal that aims to create Eco-rubber seismic-isolation foundation systems’ that will improve the seismic resilience of low-rise buildings has been approved for funding of $1 million by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE). 

These will be sustainable and cost-effective seismic-isolation foundation-soil systems for medium-density low-rise buildings, according to the project’s Science Leader, UC College of Engineering Senior Lecturer Gabriele Chiaro, of the Civil and Natural Resources Engineering department. 

“Successful completion of this research will result in a sustainable engineering solution to increase the seismic resilience of low-rise buildings while reusing and recycling waste tyres with great environmental and socio-economic benefits for the country, such as new jobs, improved products, and increased revenues for New Zealand, and hopefully the world,” Dr Chiaro says. 

Annually in Aotearoa New Zealand over 3.5 million used tyres are destined for landfills, illegally disposed or unaccounted for, he says, giving rise to stockpiles of tyres that do not readily degrade and disintegrate. With the ever-growing volume of waste tyres, environmental concerns have urged the search for reuse of waste tyres through large-scale recycling engineering applications. 

“Waste tyres are a great source of environmentally friendly and sustainable building materials that can be made affordable and readily available through technological innovations,” Dr Chiaro says.  

“Also, they may provide novel and effective engineering solutions to enable us to design buildings with enhanced seismic resilience. This makes them ideal materials for developing affordable, medium-density, low-rise buildings that are in high demand in New Zealand.” 

In this context, by reusing and recycling waste tyres, Dr Chiaro and his research team propose to deliver an innovative eco-rubber, seismic-isolation foundation system to enhance the seismic performance of medium-density low-rise buildings across NZ.  

This will be achieved by combining two critical elements:

  • a seismic-dissipative filter made of rubber-gravel mixtures placed underneath the foundation structure, and

  • a flexible raft foundation made of steel fibre-reinforced rubberised concrete.

To achieve their goal the UC researchers will use a combination of:

  • geotechnical and environmental engineering investigations to identify optimum rubber-gravel mixtures, having excellent mechanical properties and minimal leaching attributes,

  • structural engineering tests to design flexible, fibre-reinforced, rubberised-concrete raft foundations with satisfactory structural performance, and

  • numerical and physical models to prove the concept, evaluate the seismic performance of the entire foundation system, and quantify the level of reduction in the seismic response of prototype buildings

 

“Successful completion of this research will result in a sustainable engineering solution to increase the seismic resilience of low-rise buildings while reusing and recycling waste tyres with great environmental and socio-economic benefits for the country, such as new jobs, improved products, and increased revenues for New Zealand, and hopefully the world,” Dr Chiaro says. 

The Endeavour Fund, New Zealand’s largest contestable research fund, invests in ambitious research projects that aim to improve the lives of New Zealanders by enhancing New Zealand’s economy, environment and society.

- University of Canterbury