22nd May 2003
Activists engineer eco-debate
ASTON UNIVERSITY final-year engineering students are set for a big environmental debate tomorrow (Friday 23rd May), thanks to a government initiative to bring environmental issues to the forefront of engineering learning at universities.
Recent funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering for a visiting professorship in Sustainable Development at Aston University has resulted in the 'Sustainability Project', the first multidisciplinary project within the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
The unique project will take the form of a public enquiry into a company wishing to expand its production of PVC window frames in a small town in the north-west. The enquiry will involve the students taking on the roles of manufacturers, the local council and local MP, environmental activists, the unions, local residents and local media.
The students will be required to contribute to the enquiry in three different ways:
• In a technical capacity - according to their personal expertise to provide the team with the necessary technical design expertise, data and calculations required for the successful implementation of the overall project.
• As a team member - participating in the discussion and evaluation of the arguments presented by other members of the team to achieve the overall objectives.
• As a role player in the final presentation - to contribute to the dissemination of the knowledge and the clarification of the Sustainable Development issues involved, convincing the enquiry audience at the same time.
Marks from the enquiry will go towards the student's final assessment.
The Sustainability Project is the brainchild of Dr George Drahun, lecturer at Aston University and Jose Lopez-Merono, a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in Sustainable Development.
Dr George Drahun said: "The Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor schemes provide an extra dimension to teaching based on the real experiences of practicing industrial engineers.
Our students appreciate and enjoy learning about real-life problems and solutions, knowing that they will soon be working in just that sort of environment."
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