Interview with EAP Marathon Runner, Aron Fransson

In October 2021 Aron Fransson, graduate fire engineer at Hoare Lea will run the London Marathon for Engineers Against Poverty. The funds raised can help to support our work enhancing the career and life opportunities of many graduate engineers in Rwanda.

Aron has a keen interest in engineering and international development, having been a board member of Engineers Without Borders, Sweden and fundraising for the Swedish Red Cross. In this interview he outlines his motivations for combatting poverty, engineering and running!

1. You completed your MSc from Lund University last year and began your graduate fire engineer placement with Hoare Lea, an award-winning engineering consultancy. When did you discover your passion for engineering?

For a long time I was actually very keen to pursue a career as a musician! I had always, however, really appreciated the gratification of solving a problem. And with some of our more grand challenges such as climate change and an increasingly complex society, I became increasingly aware that engineering has an important role to play. Therefore, when it was time to apply for university I undertook a joint honours in music and engineering to explore both interests. Today, I’m very happy to have pursued engineering as a career and I still immensely enjoy the problem-solving nature of the sector.

2. You have worked with Engineers Without Borders, co-ordinating local student chapters in their ongoing work in international projects as well as domestic activities, such as inspiring youth to pursue engineering. What insights did this give you on the role of engineering in international development?

My time at Engineers Without Borders highlighted the value of knowledge exchange and the ripple effects that technical solutions can provide for a community. For instance, one project the organisation was heavily involved in contributed to a new brick manufacturing method for local communities in Nepal after the devastating earthquake in 2015. This tackled both an urgent need to rebuild households whilst also contributing to long-term change in engineering expertise within the local communities. For me, these projects really highlighted how engineering solutions can offer sustainable solutions and contribute to a more equal future in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

3. In deciding to run the London Marathon for a charity, what appealed to you about doing so for EAP?

As a fire engineer working in the built environment sector the EAP hosted programme CoST – the Infrastructure Transparency Initiative (CoST) caught my attention. Better infrastructure in developing countries strongly resonated with the global issues I’ve been made aware of such as rapidly spreading fires in informal settlements, as are commonly seen in slumshacks for example. Providing quality affordable housing in the age of rapid urbanisation is another key issue that will require system-level solutions and as part of that, more engineers. Finally, to specifically contribute to EAP’s internship programme for graduate engineers in Rwanda has been a great motivator for me and a cause I am very much willing to exert myself for over the 26 miles.

4. This will be your first marathon. How do you plan to stay motivated during training leading up to the event?

I’ve planned out all my runs for the last six weeks of training and once I’ve placed something in the calendar I tend to stick to it. With that said, I aim to do more sessions with friends and will be joining a running club once I’ve returned from my annual leave in Sweden. On race day I’m planning to skip the headphones and soak in the atmosphere as much as I can.

5. What are the different ways you are raising funds for EAP?

I’m reaching out within my Engineers Without Borders network and connecting with co-workers within Hoare Lea. The firm has a genuine interest in sustainable development and I feel lucky to work with such like-minded individuals. Other than that, I’ll be using my social media platforms to reach out to friends and family to give everyone a nudge to contribute to the cause.

Click here to support Aron running for graduate engineers in Rwanda.