The use of competitive design work embedded in first year engineering experiences (FYEEs) has been demonstrated to be an excellent learning and teaching tool. A well structured design competition enhances the FYEE and improves retention and graduation rates while also providing an excellent vehicle for developing many of the graduate attributes espoused as desirable by employers and accreditation bodies such as Engineers Australia and ABET. An opportunity was seen to exist in Australia to develop a national design competition – a possibility due to relative small number of universities and the national professional and accreditation role played by Engineers Australia. It was essential that any competition would meet all relevant learning and teaching criteria, be attractive to all universities and students and could be sustained into the future. The paper describes the development of a collaborative partnership between the Australian Council of Engineering Deans, the Australasian Association of Engineering Education, Engineers Australia, Engineers Without Borders, Australia (EWB) and Thiess. The competition was largely developed by EWB and is based on a real-life project, which enables engineering design teams to explore sustainable development and provide design solutions that will be judged by profession engineers. EWB has assumed the role of national coordinator of the competition that is now termed “The EWB Challenge”. The competition should grow to become the design base for many engineering programs in Australia.
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