Since the industrial revolution and the development of the science upon which it was built--equilibrium thermodynamics, chemistry, energy transfer and so on--education in science has tended to introduce key concepts in simplified ways. For example, in teaching the concepts of heat transfer, latent heat and thermodynamics, a typical simple problem might be to calculate the heat required to boil a certain quantity of water: and more often than not the student is told 'you may assume the heat lost to the surroundings is negligible'. There are obvious reasons for such simplifying assumptions, to help the student focus on the core fundamental physics. But does such an approach also breed a fundamental attitude amongst scientists and engineers that 'waste' is a secondary issue, a detail that does not really enter into basic understanding and engineering? This is the question this project will explore, analysing educational materials, curricula, textbooks and historical documents, and exploring the issue with teachers and students, to evaluate how deep 'prejudices' about 'ideal' and 'non-ideal' scenarios may reach in science and engineering education. Ultimately we will ask, do we need to change the way the scientists and engineers of the next decade are taught, as part of the fundamental shift to a sustainable, waste-aware industry, society, culture and economy?
In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.
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