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.
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, centred 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.
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.
“As a member of the Education division I work with universities and colleges across the globe including the UK, Netherlands, Singapore, and Australia. I support them in the use of both CES EduPack and CES Selector, for teaching and research respectively, from initial engagement to see if the software will help their current teaching right through to advising them on the deployment and use of the software.
“I was looking at every material possible, calling suppliers, trying to get hold of materials and price lists. With CES Selector, I could have saved months and months of work!”
That is what Dr Charlie Bream told me about several materials selection projects in his 14-year career prior to joining Granta in 2007, developing aerospace, automotive and consumer products – he had never used CES Selector until that point, now he is the Product Manager.
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.
Materials educators at undergraduate level consistently raise the concern: how can we engage students in learning about materials?
Engaged students learn more and are more enjoyable to teach, and project-based teaching inspires students across engineering, design, and scientific degrees. It appeals to their sense of curiosity, integrates their knowledge and helps them to learn professional skills such as teamwork, communication, and project management.
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.
Don’t forget, educators can visit Granta’s Teaching Resources Website to browse, search for, and download relevant resources for those teaching materials across science, design, and engineering courses.