Learning Technology

Mike the Engineer

October 25th, 2013 at 03:10

In which Mike Clifford introduces Sarah to the concept of upcycling and she gains a chair.

This guest post is by Dr Sarah Speight. An archaeologist and educator, she has been the University of Nottingham’s academic lead for sustainability since 2011. Sarah is the lead academic for our Nottingham Open Online Course (NOOC), Perspectives on Sustainability, that is available to all staff and students at Nottingham and also on our Sustainability, Society and You course that will run on FutureLearn from the 6th January 2014 and is available to anyone in the world. 

One of the academics who has made a major contribution to the Sustainability course is Mike Clifford, an Associate Professor of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering. Mike never says no. He was co-author of the book Sustainability and Engineering, which forms one of the key texts for this course, and he ran an online seminar for our pilot version in 2013. He is just full of ideas. We got him involved in our tour of Cripps House examining what was good and bad about the kitchen, but he was more interested in turning our end of filming BBQ into a sustainable event. Here was the perfect opportunity for Mike to try out 3 of the eco-friendly and energy-efficient stoves he had developed. You can find out how effective these were in week 8 of the course.

Mike also introduced me to ‘Upcycling’, not a term I had consciously heard before although I ‘upcycle’ on a regular basis (usually in the garden – recycling various objects as plant pots). Upcycling means to turn something thrown out as ‘rubbish’ into something useful.  While we were filming, Mike retrieved a discarded chair from a waste skip (this was NOT destined for landfill – it would have been pulped for reuse). He found an old shirt and promptly reupholstered the chair. I am now its proud owner!

For another example of Mike’s creativity, see what he does with ‘Yak wool and other strange materials’ in this YouTube video.

You can join the conversation by using hashtags #nooc13, #flsustain and #futurelearn

Sarah Speight

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