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Tools of the trade: Broadening the appeal of engineering through sustainability

Examples of practices that some engineering firms engage in include carbon reduction and sustainable procurement.

Originally known as Lloyd Barrage, it was considered an engineering marvel when completed in 1932, capable of discharging 1.4 million cubic metres of water per second
Originally known as Lloyd Barrage, it was considered an engineering marvel when completed in 1932, capable of discharging 1.4 million cubic metres of water per second - Copyright AFP Asif HASSAN
Originally known as Lloyd Barrage, it was considered an engineering marvel when completed in 1932, capable of discharging 1.4 million cubic metres of water per second - Copyright AFP Asif HASSAN

In a recent poll of engineering academics, the group from across a series of leading U.K. universities were asked what should be done to elevate the status of engineering. When presented with this question, almost two thirds (63 percent) of the respondents felt that engineering should be made more visible in schools.

In particular, the academics considered that parents need to be educated about what an important career choice being a professional engineer can be. This tendency is designed to boost the standing of engineering as a STEM subject.

Engineering is also important for addressing the environmental, technological, economic and social challenges that advanced economies face.

In order to broaden the appeal of engineering, and to connect with the younger generation, current engineers and academics emphasised the importance of climate considerations and other sustainability goals. According to the poll, 61 percent of academics indicated they have recently changed their curricula to place a greater emphasis on sustainability.

Sustainable engineering concerns the process of using resources in a way that does not compromise the environment or deplete the materials for future generations. This includes developing new approaches for designing and operating systems in such a way that the energy and resources that they use are sustainable.

Examples of practices that some engineering firms engage in include carbon reduction and sustainable procurement.

It is important that such solutions are introduced at a rate that does not compromise the natural environment and its ability to be used by future generations to meet their own needs.

Concerns extend through to the water that runs through our taps to the process of removing and breaking down the rubbish thrown into a waste bin.

Furthermore, the majority of professors take the view that a greater focus on what engineering can do to contribute to improving the climate will help to improve overall student satisfaction (this was raised by 54 percent of respondents).

For example, the New Model Institute for Technology & Engineering (NMITE) has within its structure the Centre for Advanced Timber Engineering. This body aims to create a new workforce skilled in the use of sustainable construction materials and techniques, to drive the development of a much more sustainable built environment.

The philosophy extends to the Timber Engineering classrooms. The positioning of the building was designed in a way that it considers the local environment and the structure is orientated to minimise heat gain whilst maximising natural light.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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