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.
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.
Few products get a worse press than plastic shopping bags. They are distributed free, and in vast numbers. They are made from oil. They don’t degrade. They litter the country side, snaring water-birds and choking turtles. Add your own gripe.
Paper bags are made from natural materials, and they bio-degrade. Surely it’s better to use paper? And come to think of it, why not bags made out of jute – it’s a renewable resource – and use them over and over? That must be the best of all? Continue reading
As the 2012 Olympics open in London this week, athletic achievements, and gold medals in particular, are drawing everyone’s attention. At the original Olympics in ancient Greece, the winner simply received an olive wreath: when the games first restarted in 1894, winners received a trophy. For most of the recent Olympic history, however, the crowning glory of any athletic career has been the Olympic Gold Medal. But behind the excitement of sporting prowess, we wanted to know more about the gold in the medals themselves.