Natural disasters have devastating effects on human lives with large earthquakes and typhoons ranking among the most catastrophic events – which may become more frequent given climate change and their consequences worse through habitation of risky areas.
Among other technologies, trained animals play an important role in tracking and rescuing people trapped under collapsed buildings. While traditionally dogs are used, APOPO aims to train African giant pouched rats, which are smaller and more agile to reach deep and narrow spaces, and equip them with camera-enabled backpacks housing positioning sensors and wireless communication systems.
APOPO is known for training rats for the detection of landmines and tuberculosis, and earlier research suggests that rats can be trained to locate persons. The recent development of a technology-enabled backpack in collaboration with TU Eindhoven means RescueRATs could not only locate victims but also allow two-way communication with the survivor and more precise localization of their position within the debris site to facilitate rescue.
Fernanda González, is the Community Building and Communication board member of the non-for-profit organization Engineers Without Borders, The Netherlands. Fernanda strives to improve the quality of life with engineering while inspiring and empowering social entrepreneurs in the global south.
"The aim of my teams is to inspire and encourage other change-makers to be part of our mission of supporting local entrepreneurs with the implementation of solutions that create social, environmental, and financial value.”
Fernanda developed an early interest in life sciences while studying in her home country, Mexico. She went on to pursue this interest in college, earning a bachelor's degree in chemistry. In 2017, she obtained a master´s in environmental engineering, with a focus in wastewater and solid waste management, from the University of Stuttgart in Germany. She continued her studies in 2018 at the Eindhoven University of Technology, obtaining this time a PDEng degree in Process and Product Design.
Engineers Without Borders provides aid to local partners by developing sustainable projects in four main areas align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The projects are organized in the following portfolios: Education portfolio (SDG 4: Quality education), Water portfolio (SDG 6: Clean water and sanitization), Energy portfolio (SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy), and Circular Economy portfolio (SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production).
Prof. dr. ir. Sonia Heemstra, Full Professor at Eindhoven University of Technology, will moderate this session.