Pathways to Pro-Bono
BlogPathways to Pro-Bono

"The beauty of Pro Bono projects is that they are infinitely diverse as challenges but equally diverse in where they might come from."

Pro-bono engineering is a dyamic and meaningful way to make a contribution towards society especially for those employed in the industry, but many people are unsure of how to get started or what to expect.


Aaron Smith of EWB Connect NSW coordinator talks about the recent NSW EWB Connect Q & A where professionals with extensive pro-bono experience outlined pathways into Pro Bono.


"To start off the evening, the 5 presenters first provided a short overview of their current roles in the sector and potential pro bono engagements. These presentations included projects as diverse as the local school outreach to national policy review.

Following on from these presentations the event question time moved on to the focus on the ‘why?’ of pro bono work.  Key questions centred on why to engage in Pro Bono and how to gain company support for your valuable time and energy. 

On a personal level of ‘why?’ the presenters all noted a great personal level of satisfaction gained from giving back.  This was particularly centred on the direct result that you can see from your actions. A second factor of motivation was also identified as the ability to provide services outside of your daily 9-5 activities, to learn new skills, to have creative control and to experience new methods while meeting new people.

Company attendees were also encouraged to think of Pro Bono work in a business case sense manner.  An approach that seeks to show projects value to all parties, including that of the supporting company.  So, what can be the value to companies? Presenters noted examples of companies valuing Pro Bono projects roles for their strengthening of the wider company profiles, improving tenders, or adding wider marketing and skill development opportunities for staff.

Based on these core ideas attendees were encouraging to seek Pro Bono opportunities. A process noted as being very different to a standard project model, mainly due to the time Pro Bono projects require for communities to identify their need and then for individuals to connect with it. These processes require us to stay open and patient, often a challenge in our deadline-based industry.

Attendees were recommended to watch the EWB website to stay in the loop, as well as seek out other organisations/events and to talk to colleagues about potential company-based opportunities. 

For those interested in continuing the conversation with EWB and EA, the next EWB NSW chapter event is on ‘Volunteering – engaging with and being engaged’ and will be held at the EA Chatswood office on the 12/12/18 - registration required.  This workshop style event will look at case studies and tools for understanding the personal motivation behind volunteering."

See links below for more information on pro-bono opportunities with EWB Australia:

EWB School Outreach (NSW) – Targets early awareness of STEM career pathways and the concept of Humanitarian Engineering problem-solving through the delivery of intensive school based problem-solving workshops facilitated by professionals. 

EWB Local Partnership (NSW) – Facilitates the connection of community groups to professional services to allow for projects that deliver tangible social change by the development of community skills and short and local engagement with professional services. 

Pro Bono Community of Practice (NSW) – National networks which meet regularly to discuss, and share tools and lessons learnt to assist individuals becoming aware of differences in Pro Bono delivery and promoting the application of best practices. 

Skilled Migration – Aims to improve employment for skilled migrants via mentoring, networking opportunities and the connection of existing skills to industry opportunities.

Knowledge Hubs – Created a connection for like-minded professionals to engage in pro bono work through research, workshops and project design support on specific disciplines. See for more details: 

Research Projects – Provide avenues for people to deliver in-depth research projects to address identified real work community challenges.