Brian O'Callaghan

  • Age: 20
  • Degree: Bachelor of Engineering (Civil Advanced) (Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce (Finance & International Business)


Brian O

Why did you decide to take part in this trip?
I have been involved with Engineering Without Borders (EWB) since O-Week in my first year at university. Through EWB and the Advanced Engineering Program I quickly discovered that engineering has important applications in developmental contexts and that the entire field is people-focused. This discovery excited me greatly! Over the past three years my involvement with EWB has grown and in 2015 I was awarded the BHP EWB Challenge Scholarship to participate in a Design Summit amongst other programs. I am particularly passionate about Southern Asia and have been excited to use this opportunity to also visit Nepal.

What are your preconceived notions about India?
India is a vibrant, busy and culturally diverse nation. I believe Indian people are often relatively poor financially although economic inequality is high. Indians are collectivists by nature and hence they value family and social groupings highly.

What have you heard about India?
I am passionate about developmental economics and hence a lot of what I've 'heard' has been from an economic perspective. I have heard about the disparity between state economic systems through the writings of Amartya Sen. I have followed the propositions for economic reform of current PM Narendra Modi.

Otherwise, my understanding of India and Indian culture is limited to cricket, mining, good food and lovely people.

What do you hope to achieve while you’re there?
I understand that real and meaningful engineering work is impossible without a thorough understanding of and empathy for the community(ies) in question. Hence, while I am in India I hope to engage deeply with our given community and begin to understand the true issues at hand. I would like to establish meaningful relationships and hope to have my perspective transformed. Furthermore, I hope to learn in greater detail about how appropriate technology solutions can transform lives.

What are you excited about?
I am excited to experience Indian culture, to engage critically with problems affecting disenfranchised communities and to develop new local and Australian friends.

What attracted you to CIVL5330: Global Engineering Field Work?
The opportunity to gain academic credit for being involved in a worthwhile initiative.

What is the type of role you are hoping to secure once you’ve graduated?
The possibilities are endless. My current preferences are:

  • Post-graduate international study in development economics
  • Management consulting for a socially-focused firm
  • A construction project management position with time available for volunteering with organisations such as RedR and EWB.