Granta Education Blog
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Agenda, adopted in 2015, marked a historic moment for international collaboration, when 193 member states agreed on a strategic plan for the future health of our planet. Built around 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), its vision was for a more peaceful and prosperous world by 2030.
Class of 2019 – what challenges do educators face today?
Imagine you’re 18 years old again. It’s the start of your undergraduate degree and you have no idea where your first class is being held. Instinctively, you reach for your smart phone and with two clicks you’ve found it’s in the Engineering Building, lecture hall 2 … et voilà!
Why is materials knowledge important?
Understanding the science behind materials is a valuable skill for engineers. Choosing the right material for a particular application can improve the performance of a product, make it more sustainable or even give it a competitive edge. The materials paradigm is an important relationship which helps explain how a material’s history (its processing) influences its structure, which in turn affects its properties and performance. Grasping these fundamental aspects is a useful skill that students should learn but in introductory courses, where competition for curriculum space is high, how can we engage students in the topic of materials science and engineering?
Congratulations to Prof. Kevin Jones, from the University of Florida, on receiving the NAMES (North American Materials Education Symposium) 2018 award for Outstanding Contributions to Materials Education for his course “Impact of Materials on Society” (IMOS).
In recognition for his exceptional contributions to the field of materials science and engineering, Prof. Stephen Krause was awarded the ‘Michael Ashby Outstanding Materials Educator Award’ at this year’s ASEE conference in Salt Lake City.
Educators teaching introductory materials science courses know the drill: we have large classes filled with students from diverse backgrounds, with divergent aspirations and interests. And as with any type of compulsory learning experience, we look out onto a sea of people – some of whom want to be there; some don’t – and are tasked with finding how best to convey an understanding of a vast range of scale and concepts. Arguably, at this introductory level, the most fundamental of which is the relationship between Process, Structure, and Properties – otherwise known as the materials paradigm.
SusCritMat will host its first Winter School in Les Diablerets, Switzerland
In terms of sheer coolness, very few things come close to NASA – especially if you happen to be an avid Sci-Fi fan like me. With that in mind, two stories that emphasise the critical role materials selection plays in the quest towards space exploration have caught my eye.
The second in a series in which we meet the Granta team. We spoke with our colleague Pippa, to find out what she enjoys about being an Education Account Manager, and which scientist and material inspires her most. We’re always looking for like-minded individuals who have passion and drive to make positive change to our educational practices, take a look at our current opportunities if you think this could be you.
Successful products require Engineers and Designers to collaborate, often around materials choices: balancing performance with aesthetics for the ideal product experience. Engineering curricula don’t always recognise the importance of this connection. Engineers and Designers get only a limited understanding of each other’s work, while Materials is often an under-appreciated subject. Cambridge Engineering Professor, Mike Ashby, published the book “Materials and Design” in 2009 and has worked on several learning tools to inspire Design and Engineering students about each other’s subjects, and about materials. But it has proved hard to marry the quantitative engineering perspective with descriptions of aesthetics that are often variable and culturally-dependent.
At Granta, we recently ran a survey to explore the challenges of teaching sustainable development. Key findings, from 200 plus responses, indicated that academics would welcome more case studies with real data, and a global perspective on interlinked environmental and social impacts. The feedback was consistent with my own experience, as a PhD at the Centre for Sustainable Development where I did research in social and environmental impact assessment tools. I was also closely involved in teaching, and subsequently co-developed a start-up company focusing on software and learning. From these experiences, it was clear that software can have a large impact on teaching and outreach. I’m now working as Development Manager and Sustainability Consultant in the Education Team at Granta, collaborating with the academic community and Professor Mike Ashby to develop teaching resources that support the sustainable development subject-area.
The final talk at the 2nd Asian Materials Education Symposium, delivered by Mr Gilbert Teo of Singapore Polytechnic, centered on the benefits of peer-based learning and, more specifically, re-designing a course to encourage students to learn from each other. This method of learning moves away from the conventional student vs teacher stereotype and explores the role of a facilitator and how we can incorporate technology. Not only was this a reflective way to end the highly successful Symposium, but it sparked a great deal of discussion. With students acting more like consumers and wanting the best learning experiences from their education, engaging them is more important than ever.
If two heads are better than one, imagine the benefits of two communities coming together to share each other’s views on materials and processes to make the best designed, best engineered products. That’s the premise behind a new educational project at Granta Design. If we can inspire designers and engage engineers to learn about each other’s vital role in product development, and enable them to communicate in the common language of materials, we can arrive at a whole that is much greater than the sum of the parts. Two views, one vision. The new CES EduPack ‘Products, Materials and Processes’ Database offers university educators and their students two views of materials information, the Designer’s View and the Engineer’s View, so both can learn how to create successful products that are functional and aesthetically pleasing.
In this new series of blog posts, we will be presenting a series of extracts from the white paper, ‘Teaching Materials with CES EduPack’. This week, we look at how CES EduPack can provide self-learning opportunities to enhance materials education outside of the classroom.