Integrating Sustainable Engineering Principles in Material Science Engineering Education

Integrating Sustainable Engineering Principles in Material Science Engineering Education

Bandita Mainali (La Trobe University, Australia), Joe Petrolito (La Trobe University, Australia), John Russell (La Trobe University, Australia), Daniela Ionescu (La Trobe University, Australia) and Haider Al Abadi (La Trobe University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8183-5.ch014
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The increasing demands on earth's resources require the need for engineering disciplines to address the limitations of materials and energy as well as the need to reduce waste production. This requirement is particularly acute for material science engineers as their work has a lasting impact on our future sustainability. Recent developments and innovations in material science can be useful tools for achieving sustainable development, provided material science engineers are aware of the issues. They should be particularly aware of global sustainability challenges, and should be able to understand how they can contribute to the solutions of these problems. Therefore, this chapter discusses how sustainable engineering principles can be introduced into material science education. It also discusses the curriculum for the subject Sustainable Infrastructure that is offered at La Trobe University in Victoria (Australia) for senior Civil Engineering students.
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In the early 1970s, a team of researchers lead by Professor Denis Meadows produced a report for the Club of Rome entitled “The Limit to Growth”, which predicted a future where industrial production will fall to zero and where the air, land and sea will be polluted beyond redemption (Meadows, Meadows, Randers, & Behrens III, 1972). The report warned about a future created by the unrestrained linear growth of resource exploitation, environmental devastation and the blind march of industrial growth, all of which would contribute to the inevitable calamity. About twenty years later, the sequel to this book, “Beyond the Limits”, was also published by the Club of Rome. The authors of the book argued that despite the over-exploitation of many of the world’s resources beyond their capacity to regenerate, the catastrophic future is not inevitable (Meadows, Meadows, & Randers, 1992). To avoid this calamity, Samarin (2005) suggested two necessary changes. The first is a comprehensive revision of policies and practices that perpetuate growth in material consumption and population. The second is a drastic increase in the efficiency of the use and consumption of materials. The proper selection of materials and production technologies therefore play a vital role in bringing about these two changes.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Material Science: Material Science is an interdisciplinary field that deals with the study of materials, their properties and innovations from the discovery of new materials.

Basic Engineering Materials: This refers to materials that are most often used in engineering design.

Sustainable Engineering: This refers to an engineering approach that takes into consideration the sustainable solutions to the problems of sustainable development.

Global Sustainability Challenges: Global climate change, over exploitation of resources, depletion of sources, excessive waste production, waste management, excessive emissions of GHGs, global climate change are among the main global sustainability challenges.

Sustainable Engineering Principles: These are engineering design principles that take into consideration the aims of sustainable development.

Sink Depletion: This refers to the excessive generation of waste that has arisen due to the shortage of space for waste disposal.

Eco-Efficient Material: This is a material that has been designed to do the least possible damage to the environment and with reduced impact on human health.

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