Yours truly hasn’t been active in Blogosphera Estate for some days now (not even answering e-mails – sorry Hash, Melisa, Carina, Mshairi, …) –  mainly due to some extra studies in something we call hydrology:

Water Cyle
       (I know you gals & guys like pictures :-)

"Hydrology (from Greek: Yδρoλoγια, Yδωρ+Λoγos, Hydrologia, the "study of water") is the study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water throughout the Earth, and thus addresses both the hydrologic cycle and water resources." (Wikipedia)

Being a student of water and soil management, which is a healthy mixture of civil & environmental engineering, I am supposed to know ALL those things. Yani, I am slowly getting too old for all this. My brain is not like a foam anymore, more like a sieve with big holes. And the more you study, the more you become confused and in the end you’re graduadet and working as an engineer, coming up with all those nice, high-tech, sophisticated & expensive engineering solutions that will make this world a better place to live in and….blabla bla blub.


What’s wrong? The approach. The approach on technology is wrong. This is not about high-tech fun gadgets like multimedia camera phones, neat mp3 players or even fridges that are connected to the internet but about solutions that are simple AND important. The world, I think, needs simple, stable, low-cost and eco-effective solutions/products. How often did your modern car fail due to electrical problems (yes, Mercedes, VW & Co)? How often did your mobile phone reset while you were typing an important fupi messagi (sms)? How often were you actually thinking about simpler technologies that would be more stable? More technology =  more problems.

This being said, I today came across this nice word "imagineering" I’ve found on the website of Vestergaard Frandsen – this company in Denmark that develops a practical filter element called "Life Straw" I’ve been blogging about the other day in August (and I just realised they’re having an office in Nairobi as well …aiaaaaa… do I apply for an internship? :-).

Life Straw is a 25cm long pipe filter that’s used to filter dirty water and they intend to sell it to the UN & others for world wide use. Vestergaard Frandsen are also suppliers of special insecticidal mosquito nets & tents – or as they call it "disease control textiles" – so they actually know what’s needed in refugee camps and have demanding customers. Great! High-tech products that are required worldwide, simple but effective solutions to help those in need. They call it "imagineering" = creative thinking (imagination) + engineering. Just pure marketing blabla? Maybe.

What I like, though, is their approach on technology. This is not about unimportant gadgets that only entertain people and generate work over at Guangdong, China, but about things the world needs. This is what I am interested in – technology that will make the world a better place to live in; simple but well engineered (read: unbreakable) eco-effective products that DO make a positive change in the world. And why did I mention all this? Because "on the job" you’re often required to cope with compromises. Make it high-tech and very expensive or low-budget-styled and not-so-high-tech?
The emphasis is often only put on costs and not the technology itself which often generates further problems. Maybe they are doing this in order to make additional revenue on maintenance deals but the point is that there’s just way too much money made on useless technology that doesn’t get us anywhere whereas today’s problems (health, food, environment, etc.) could be tackled by putting more emphasis on smarter, imaginative engineering.

Author: jke

Hi, I am an engineer who freelances in water & sanitation-related IT projects at You'll also find me on Twitter @jke and Instagram.

5 thoughts on “Imagineering”

  1. Welcome back! I remember the uppermost image from science class back in high school.

    This “life straw” thing will be added to, I hope, as soon as I get it going…

  2. Hey, engineering is already a creative kind of work … so I think we should not need these fancy new words …
    Especially in Germany, the country of engineers, we already lost our reputation … however …
    In other parts of the world like the Middle East where I am actually working, the engineering reputation is higher than the one of medical doctors …

    And the biggest approach in water management is already the change from supply side to demand side management.
    But that´s Suderburg: I never heard of these things before … I am leraning it here in Aleppo … and it is something really common …

  3. Michael, salam aleikum and greetings to Aleppo!
    I know you’re quite convinced of this (german) civil engineering part (Zuse & Co.) but in this case I was thinking about the difference between quality engineering and what’s eventually realized on site because of costs.

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