Andrew Drain

Andrew Drain staff profile picture

School of Engineering & Advanced Technology
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Pre-Design Capacity Building: Enhancing Participatory Design with Under-served Communities

Research Description
How can technology development, for under-served markets in developing countries, be enhanced to ensure context-appropriate solutions are created and adopted? Participatory Design methodology may provide the answer. However this approach, developed in Scandinavia, of collaboration, mutual learning, and design empowerment is not well suited to the diverse education-levels, socio-cultural influences and priorities of subsistence living. This research aims to utilize formal capacity building workshops, to increase end-user knowledge of design concepts, as a tool for enhancing the participatory design process; in particular the collaboration between designer and end-user. To do this a single, longitudinal case study will be undertaken in partnership with a Cambodia-based Social Enterprise. The case study will aim to collaborate with a rural community, of people with disabilities, to design assistive technologies to improve access to vegetable farming practices. A range of qualitative methods will be used to collect and analyse data throughout the two year case study with the aim of assessing whether a focus on formal capacity building, before a participatory design project begins, has a positive effect on collaboration throughout the project.

Personal Description
I am a product design engineer, originally from Wellington, New Zealand. After working as an engineer for Fisher & Paykel Healthcare I wanted to shift my focus towards designing products which had positive impact on communities in less-developed areas around the world. After discussing this vision with my supervisor I found that leveraging Massey University's existing relationships with international development organisations was beneficial to developing my own personal relationship with potential case study partners. Once finished, I would like to continue work in the area of technology development for developing contexts and drive change towards more inclusive design practices.

Dr Aruna Shekar
Professor Nigel Grigg


Shekar, A. & Drain, A. (2016). Community Engineering: Raising awareness, skills and knowledge to contribute towards sustainable development. International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education.

Drain, A, Shekar, A & Goodyer, J. (2016). Building Capability to Teach Humanitarian Engineering: A Reflection. Paper presented at the Australasian Association of Engineering Education Conference 2016.

Drain, A (2016). The importance of product design in humanitarian development. Presented at Link Festival 2016, Melbourne.

Shekar, A, Goodyer, J & Drain, A. (2015). Introduction to Needs Analysis for increasing first year engineering students’ ability in conceptual design. Paper presented at the Australasian Association of Engineering Education Conference 2015.

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