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News Release

Engineering Can Help Developing Nations Solve Critical Problems, IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference Keynote Speaker Says

WASHINGTON (21 October 2011) — Engineering can help developing nations solve critical problems, but a worldwide shortage of engineers is hampering the effort, according to former UNESCO official Dr. Tony Marjoram.

To that end, he said, engineering education must become more exciting and better convey the key role engineers can play in improving people’s lives. Marjoram will address these issues during the inaugural IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, 30 October - 1 November 2011, in Seattle.

Marjoram, former head of engineering, Division of Basic and Engineering Sciences, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, will deliver the opening keynote address on Monday morning 31 October. He gave a preview of his talk on “The Promise of Tomorrow” radio show with Colonel Mason earlier this month.

“Engineering is extremely important in promoting humanitarian development,” Marjoram said. “When young people can see that engineering is vitally important in this area … [they] are more attracted towards a career in engineering.”

You can listen to the interview at (Go to the second half hour.)

The IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference will showcase the role technology can play in improving lives and creating business opportunities for people in emerging nations. See to register. The program is available at

Marjoram said more engineers are needed to help solve problems plaguing people the world over. For example, he said 2.6 billion people don’t have access to safe drinking water.

“Engineering is vital in terms of human, economic and social development,” he said. “… Engineering is sort of the basic driver of development in providing services, infrastructure and facilities, and needs to be more effectively applied.”

The global competition for engineers doesn’t help developing countries.

“They also face the problems of brain drain and migration of their engineers to the richer countries,” Marjoram said. “So, [developed] countries can tackle the challenges of having not enough engineers by allowing migration, but in reality this is not really a proper engineering solution because it just causes problems in other countries, particularly in poorer countries that are already short of engineers.”

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