The InspirON Sustainability Series videos are now online.

As design engineers we’re often key to solving environmental crises. But what are the practical steps to achieving greater sustainability in our work?

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27 Jul, 2021

The InspirON Sustainability Series videos are now online.

Wevolver recently partnered with Protolabs in the creation of the InspirON Sustainability Series: A tour de force in knowledge sharing and a resource that helps fast-forward design engineers through the growing urgency of climate change mitigation.

By Bram Geenen, CEO, Wevolver

Design engineers have been designing with sustainability in mind for generations. But with sustainability increasingly becoming a matter for industry to contend with, fast evolving global environmental crises must be met with a more coordinated response. It’s important to consider now what the practical steps should be for design engineers.

Ambitious targets have recently been set by governments over the next ten years, and more and more businesses are signing up to climate change agreements. But how can the targets and agreements be translated into action? What framework is there for design engineers and their employers to plot their journeys to a more sustainable norm?

There are answers to these questions and the required expertise is out there. When Protolabs approached Wevolver with the idea of a curated and comprehensive resource of global knowledge for design engineers to become more sustainable in their work we thought this was an important step along the road to sustainability. Happening right now, the series is timed perfectly near the start of a decade of political promise, just prior to economies bouncing back from the shackles of the pandemic. To extract the fragmented knowledge of experts from across the globe and convert it into manageable, accessible learning sessions, available to everyone free of charge, is highly valuable.

As on-demand sessions that make up the series, broken into four themes and a fifth group of round table discussions, this article looks at the sessions under the theme ‘Inspire to Change’ – recorded presentations delivered by global experts with insight to help you gain the knowledge and confidence you need to achieve sustainability. Let me introduce you to the experts and their presentations.

Note: To watch the full videos you'll be asked to sign up to the Wista platform. 

Yewande is a chartered engineer, innovator, television host and (as she describes herself) ‘dreamer’ with a passion for the role of creativity and engineering in our world today. Yewande’s presentation looks at how all things are interlinked and at how problem solving and passion together deliver the impact needed in sustainable design.

Yewande talks about her experiences from her childhood in Nigeria to the projects she’s working on now, and how it all shaped her perspective on design and solving the world’s problems through engineering. She examines case studies that support the notion that ideas can come from anywhere – even in a fast paced environment such as that found in the construction industry.

A key part of the presentation has Yewande describe those moments where she has put herself outside her comfort zone, but where these moments have provided her with opportunity to create positive change.

Access the talk here

As a Red Dot Design Award winner, entrepreneur and Director at design consultancy, Coremination, Sioned has managed the development of thousands of consumer and medical products from sketch to launch. Sioned’s presentation looks at side hustles in sustainability – how to make an impact with a sustainable venture.

Sioned talks about side hustles being an outlet for creativity – having an idea and jumping into your office at home (or your shed!) to begin working through that idea – and the steps needed to convert it into a startup, then a business with a market-fit product and business model. But doing so successfully and sustainably!

During an important part of the presentation, Sioned describes Ikigai, the Japanese concept meaning ‘a reason for being’. It’s a really good starting point for understanding how best to apply your skills and passions to a sustainable endeavour.

Access the talk here

James is a policy and public affairs expert, currently leading The IET’s work on sustainability and climate change. James’s presentation aims to help you keep an open mind on policy and legislation with regard to sustainability in design and engineering. It looks at the factors that influence policy and legislation, and how engineers, technologists, and innovators can have an impact.

James begins with the question: How will we ever solve climate change? The responses to this question in a recent IET survey revealed that most people felt the responsibility fell to governments and to industry. He then moves on to describe the relationship between government and industry – specifically design engineers – how policy and legislation affects design engineers and what they can do to influence the way policy is shaped in the future.

One of the important messages that comes out of the presentation is to ‘pick your battles’; to focus on the areas you care about most and how you can identify potential impact.

Access the talk here

As Circular Design Programme Lead at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Joe’s role is to inspire and empower millions of designers to create products, services, and systems for the circular economy. Through his work, Joe has helped shape the circular economy narrative, so his inclusion on the series is a fantastic addition. Joe’s presentation looks at ‘the big idea’ of circular economy, raising ambitions above mere better recycling and waste management.

Joe talks initially about circularity as a history lesson – starting in the year 1924 at a meeting between the world’s lightbulb manufacturers intent on safeguardinbg their industry by reducing the lifespan of lightbulbs. Planned product obsolescence was born. Joe then develops on this and goes on to talk about the three principles of circular economy: how products are massively underutilised and how we can keep them in use, how to design out waste and how to regenerate natural resources – all through using systems thinking.

When talking about regenerating natural resources, Joe looks at how, as designers, we can give back more than we take; effectively going beyond the ‘zero’!

Access the talk here

Sophie is an unusual mix of campaigner, practicing designer and chartered waste manager, having worked in the fields of sustainable design, behaviour change and material process for over 20 years. She has helped bring the concept of circularity into businesses and government organisations, proving that designers are key to resource efficiencies and waste management.

Sophie begins her presentation with an overview of the Thomas Matthews business and her role as chartered waste manager before moving on to the history of civic duty around waste control. She looks at the current status of emissions across energy and products and the mass of material that goes into consumer products – focusing on how the data and the science can lead us to solving the environmental cost during the design stage.

In one key part of the presentation Sophie looks at why we should think of users beyond the original purchaser for material optimisation.

Access the talk here

The ‘Inspire to Change’ theme is just one of four themes that, along with round table discussions, form the InspirON Sustainability Series. 

Working with Protolabs on this project has been a fascinating experience that has inspired us here to focus more on our own sustainability challenges. 

And I think it will inspire you too, so I urge you to take a look at the content, learn from the experts and plot your journey to sustainability. As design engineers we are key to solving many of the world’s environmental crises, but it’s collaboration and knowledge sharing that will help get us there.

Access all the talks here.

27 Jul, 2021

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