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.
“Are you innovating with intent?” seems like a simple question but if your company doesn’t have a good materials information strategy in place, the answer will most likely be “No”. In our latest blog post, you’ll discover how companies like Ethicon Endo-Surgery are innovating and raising their materials IQ.
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.
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.
Thomas Friedman has stated that ‘the world is flat’. He’s not recanting modern scientific discoveries, but he is highlighting that everything, everywhere, is somehow connected and that what happens at some part of the world can have drastic implications in other parts. It’s another way of saying that we live in a globalized world, that we eat, drink, and perform our daily activities using products that sometimes come from such remote places that we don’t even know they exist – take the horse-meat scandal as a recent example! It also means that the way in which we teach our younger generation has to adapt accordingly to this new paradigm of globalization.
A Silly Mistake?
No one set out to develop Silly Putty: it was a novelty by-product during research aiming at new silicone elastomers to replace scarce rubber. In 1943, an engineer at General Electric, James Wright, was working in the New Haven laboratory when he accidentally dropped boric acid into silicone oil: the result was a bouncing silicone putty. The new material stretched more than rubber, even at high temperatures, but it also had some more interesting and unusual properties. Over long timescales or at high temperatures it flowed like a fluid. But at shorter timescales it bounced and behaved like an elastic solid. GE started marketing it, but it only really took off when the novelty value of this new material caught the attention of Peter Hodgson, a marketing consultant. He bought the rights from GE, and started marketing his ‘solid liquid’ as ‘Silly Putty®’.