Our History

A few words from JP McKeown, Board Secretary on the beginnings of and reasons for EngineerAid

I first started looking at the concept of an engineering advice website around the summer of 2004. I had previously given a few pounds at various times to some of the well known charities but this always seemed like quite a remote and impersonal process. I was talking to someone who had just come back from spending several months volunteering in Africa - which seemed like a much more rewarding experience but something which I wasn't in a position to undertake myself.

One of the problems I heard about was the shortage of working medical equipment in the country's main hospital. This included some of the few X-ray machines available in the whole region. It was dissapointing to learn that, despite an aid organisation having donated second hand equipment to the hospital, this had subsequently broken down and was in need of some maintenance. Unfortunately there was no user manual or documentation for the machines and the only person available for performing basic repairs around the hospital had never worked on these machines before.

The hospital is intermittently served by a phone line and low speed dial-up connection for internet access to a few computers normally used for record keeping. Being a qualified engineer myself I thought I could probably make a good attempt to guide them through the process of diagnosing and fixing the machine by phone and email. I could used the access I have here to the internet to download any relevant datasheets and if necessary even contact the original manufacturers. I asked my friend if the hospital would appreciate that kind of assistance and the answer was a definite yes !!

It was obvious that there would be thousands of other projects and people out there who would benefit from this kind of help - I wondered if there was already a website which dealt with engineering enquires specifically for development. To my surprise there was nothing I could find during a thorough search of the net. After talking this over with several of my colleagues I knew that there would be many other engineers who would be prepared to offer advice to worthy projects from all over the world - so there was definitely a demand on both sides which was not being met.

One of the most important ingredients, of course, was getting the right team of people involved in starting up such a charity. Its a great credit to the enthusiasm and abilities of the staff and volunteers of at EngineerAid that we have been able to take the seed of the idea and form a great organisation and get involved in very worth projects. I'm looking forward even more to what we will achieve in the coming year.

-John Paul