Manila Water Foundation honors engineers for social good
Manila Water Foundation (MWF) honored four Filipino engineers who made significant social impact at the MWF Prize for Engineering Excellence Awarding Ceremony on February 3 at Seda Hotel Vertis North in Quezon City.
The Manila Water Foundation Prize for Engineering Excellence (The Prize) is the only recognizing body in the Philippines that honors engineers who made notable contributions in solving development problems in the areas of water, sanitation, environment, and sustainability.
In partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Philippine Technological Council (PTC), the umbrella organization of the thirteen professional engineering organizations in the Philippines, The Prize honored four awardees this year — Engr. Alexis T. Belonio, Dr. Michael A. Gragasin, Dr. Ruel M. Mojica, and Dr. Francis Aldrine A. Uy.
Engr. Belonio, an agricultural engineer, is the man behind the rice husk gasifier stove. His technology allows people to have a more affordable alternative to LPG by using rice husk, a common biowaste from rice production, as its main source of fuel. Through this invention, more Filipino families can now allot additional budget for food and other important items as each sack of rice husk can be purchased for only PhP10 and is already sufficient for one-week use. For the same invention, Engr. Belonio has received the Rolex Award for Enterprise for turning his technology into open source, making its fabrication cost more affordable.
Also an agricultural engineer, Dr. Gragasin worked on making milling machines more accessible to farmers. Through his inventions, the compact corn mill and impeller rice mill, farmers can now process their own crops and won’t need to rely on commercial millers or sell their produce at a low price to traders. With these machines and the capacity-building activities Dr. Gragasin spearheads, farmers can now increase their income from PhP5 per kilo to around PhP14 to PhP25 per kilo. Production costs for corn and rice, which are staple food in the country, are also maintained at a low cost making these grains more affordable for each Filipino.
Dr. Mojica, another agricultural engineer, has a vision to empower low-income coffee farmers to increase their financial viability by involving them in value-adding activities such as roasting. To make this happen, he invented the Bravura Coffee Roasting Machine and has partnered with a local manufacturer to help him fabricate the machine at the lowest possible cost. Compared to imported and commercially available roasters, his machine is at least 50% cheaper and offers local support to farmers such as trainings on coffee science, business operation, and marketing. Now, more coffee farmers reap the benefits of being able to turn their green coffee into roasted coffee beans as their profit increases by at least 50%.
Lastly, Dr. Uy, a civil engineer, commits to make our communities less vulnerable to the adverse effects of earthquakes. Taking his profession to heart, he invented the Universal Structural Health Evaluation and Recording (USHER) System, a device which can be used to continuously gather data and monitor the structural health and integrity of buildings and other structures. The data gathered from his invention will allow structural engineers to have better basis for assessment if it is safe to go back in a building after an earthquake which can prevent injuries and possible loss of lives.
Now on in its third run, MWF, PTC, and DOST conduct a biennial nationwide search for extraordinary Filipino engineers to recognize their contributions, help them achieve a wider reach and help promote their technologies to contribute to national progress.
Manila Water Foundation Chairman Rene Almendras shared, “I hope that we will be able to continue this partnership not only to recognize the greatness of Filipino engineers, but more importantly, to help promote positive change for marginalized communities through the innovations our engineers make.”