July 2019 Placements

Engineers Without Borders

Engineers Without Borders is a name adopted by groups of engineers throughout the world who wish to use their skills and experience to improve the lives of others through the implementation of engineering projects. There are many differences between each chapter, but they are all united in their common goal to engineer a better world.

Ingeniería Sin Fronteras Argentina (Engineering Without Borders Argentina) and Ingenieros Sin Fronteras Chile (Engineers Without Borders Chile) are not-for-profit organisations of engineers and other professionals dedicated to providing engineering solutions to vulnerable communities throughout their respective countries. Their projects are in the fields of water and sanitation, sustainable energy, education, housing and the provision of basic human rights. For more information on ISF Argentina and ISF Chile, please visit their websites: isf-argentina.org, www.isf-chile.org.

Volunteering Overseas

With the rapid growth of “voluntourism”, many people travel overseas with the best of intentions only to burden a remote community with a water system they cannot maintain, or medical equipment they don’t have the experience to operate. Many companies offer “feel good” projects which are more targeted towards the volunteer’s enjoyment and profit generation than any meaningful benefit to the community. This approach inevitably leads to projects that are out of touch with the community and are not implemented or maintained once the construction team leave, and often fail to address the real concerns of the community in the first place.

ISF Argentina and Chile have an extremely effective approach of engaging with the community, listening to their concerns and working with them to develop solutions that will be lasting and practical. Their projects seek to empower communities to take ownership of the projects; providing technical assistance, funding and volunteers as needed. This method of integrating the community at all stages is fundamental to the long-term success that their projects enjoy. While these placements are extremely rewarding for the participants, a meaningful and lasting contribution to vulnerable communities is always the overriding directive of the projects.

International Placements Program

The HEIP Program consists of separate engineering projects, with participants working within small teams. The placements will be for four working weeks. Participants will work alongside and under the supervision of professional engineers from ISF Argentina and ISF Chile. Participants will apply theoretical knowledge such as project development, data collection and analysis, site preparation and layout, implementation of technical drawings and construction techniques in real-world projects.  This program is targeted towards students studying engineering or a related course, but is open to all applicants. Places are limited and the selection process considers the suitability of the applicant to the program.

Program Inclusions

The program offers the following:

  • A guaranteed placement with Ingeniería Sin Fronteras working on a humanitarian engineering project in Argentina or Chile.

  • Professional work experience. Participants who complete the four weeks will receive a letter confirming a minimum of 160hrs of Exposure to Professional Engineering Practice.

  • Participants will receive presentations from ISF engineers on topics such as sustainable development and humanitarian engineering.

  • Prior to departure, successful applicants will receive opportunities for training in site-relevant skills, applying for the OS-HELP loan and organising travel arrangements.

  • Included online training modules to help prepare the participant for life in-country.

  • Argentina and Chile are Spanish speaking countries, and opportunities to learn about the language and culture will be offered to all participants during semester.

  • In-country support from program coordinators who will help you adjust and will be available 24/7 in case of emergency.                               

  • On-site training for relevant engineering and construction skills.

  • Transfer from the airport to accommodation provided that the recommended flight is taken.

Program Expectations

This is NOT a micromanaged program – all participants are adults and will be treated as such. Outside of work hours, each participant is free to do as they wish and are encouraged to socialise and explore Argentine culture. However, the same professional standards are applied to participants as would be expected on a program in Australia- e.g. participants must arrive at site on time and be fit for work.

The Australian safety culture will be adopted on site. This will include comprehensive risk management strategies such as site risk assessments, emergency action plans and appropriate PPE. Participants will be expected to uphold these values and follow safety guidelines at all times.

Argentina and Chile are classed by DFAT as low-risk destinations, advising normal safety precautions.


To assist in the long-term sustainability of the program and to ensure the program is not a burden on the community or the host organisation, the following fee applies:

July Program Fee: $3,850.00 AUD

Please note that all payments are non-refundable. The fee will be charged as an initial deposit of $300.00 AUD payable in the weeks following your acceptance into the program. The remainder of the fee becomes payable closer to the program date. Please refer to the timetable presented later in this document.

Cost Breakdown

Pre-Departure Costs


Pre-departure events, training supplies, online training costs.

In-country running costs


Transport, program inclusions, first aid equipment and other incidental in-country costs.

Company overheads


Software and hardware expenses, accounting and insurance, staff salaries, flights and accommodation for in-country coordinators.



Participants will stay in apartments of four people. These will include free wi-fi, cooking facilities and be located depending on access to public transport and security of the neighbourhood.

Donation to ISF


In order to help ISF continue their work, we donate approximately $1000 on your behalf. This donation will go towards funding building materials, equipment and ongoing running costs for their projects.