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What is the most effective way to increase the living standard of people in developing countries, in relation to engineering?

I'm a university student wanting to have an engineering career in developing countries. I'm not sure what part of engineering I want to specialise in, and would be grateful for any ideas, especially from people who are in this field themselves. If not, that's kl too.

Also the main problems that need to be solved to raise the living standard (social, physical, emotional, etc.)


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    May 28 2011: There are many venues to pursue! This is something that I have been passionate about, and I'm so happy that another person relayed that taking a practical approach (engineering) to solving international development problems is a valid route. In my experience I have identified two major routes towards combining the two: civil and industrial design. However, I am in mechanical engineering with a specialty in materials, and have managed just fine. Civil engineering because many of the projects that would improve social and economic living standards are in implementing infrastructure such as roads, water systems and purifications, sewage etc. It's not glamorous but they are the veins of a society that is developed. Industrial design is another route I think that is equally valid, as it addresses specific needs for populations. This is the direction that I have started to pursue, especially in building looking at social enterprises. I'm modeling a plan for my business after individuals like Paul Polak of IDE or Kickstart. They have created tools to economically help people improve their own living standards in a sustainable manner. There are other ways, but these two really stand out. Furthermore, I would suggest pursuing Chinese, French, and Spanish. A lot of investment is coming from China into development projects in developing countries and it has been very useful to me. French and Spanish are also main languages in many of these countries and are exceedingly beneficial. Hope that helps!
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      May 29 2011: Thanks for that, I never knew that China was investing heavily in developing countries. Its helpful what you say about the 2 different career paths, fortunately I am currently studying Civil Engineering at uni, and your right, they are many projects I can be involved in. Thats one of the things I am currently contemplating about; what part of civil engineering I want to specialise in.

      Thanks again :)

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