Empirical experience is indispensable for the engineer. In an eventual bid to solve the world’s problems, a considerable slice of formative engineering education occurs in the workshop, affording students the opportunity to leverage conceptual knowledge and materialise what was hitherto purely theoretical. However, an unfortunate requisite for such materialisation is the presence of materials, and the inevitable consequence of said presence is waste.
Waste from such endeavours represents a significant portion of refuse originating in educational institutions. Generally, it is almost dismissively disposed of, not from a lack of awareness but for want of alternatives. As an attempt to mitigate if not eliminate this problem, we believe the optimal solution lies in recycling - not the ostensibly magical process that only occurs miles away from the bin but a more direct and pragmatic approach to reusing materials. We suggest that excess material be redesigned into composites, for instance, that may be used for prototyping. Something as ubiquitous as sawdust may be fashioned into a powder that can be further utilised to fortify other materials. These composites may not be as strong and versatile as their constituent parts, but their use for design has much potential and gives these substances a new lease on life.
We aim to focus on SDGs 9 and 12, reflecting on the repercussions of waste particularly in education and its connection to responsible production. We are of the opinion that the best way the engineering sector may be made globally responsible is to create powerful, tangible and scalable solutions at the grassroots level, giving us and others the chance to develop these ideas further to foster a gradual yet deliberate change in the sustainability of the engineering enterprise.