circular economy

Engineers must think circular in product creation

The University of Southern Denmark is going down a completely new path to educate engineers in sustainable thinking. Materials like textiles, plastics and wind turbine blades are to be recycled into new products.

By Bolette Marie Kjær Jørgensen, , 12/20/2019

From 1st February 2020, the engineering students in Product Development and Innovation at the Faculty of Engineering at The University of Southern Denmark (SDU) will meet a familiar and high-profiled Master's degree programme. Sustainability will be a fundamental value when they work with product creation and innovation.

-Our ambition is to educate engineers in thinking about sustainability from the outset. This will take place in a circular process where students learn to design entire systems, not just specific products., i.e. the entire process from the selection of material to the retailing of the product to consumers and the subsequent recycling of material.

-Students will also learn to ensure proper disposal, when all the properties of the material have reached the end of their service life, says Lykke Margot Ricard, Associate Professor and Head of Programme for the Master's degree in Engineering Product Development and Innovation at SDU.

Collaboration with private companies

There is a pronounced need in various industries for graduates who have been educated in economic, environmental and societal creation of sustainable processes.

Students on the programme can already look forward to visiting three different companies in order to gain an insight into the engineering processes of upcycling future industrial waste materials for new products.

There will be a strong demand in the future for recycling wind turbine blades, separating chemicals and reusing composite materials like coal and fiberglass in a new circular process.

Circular material flow

-Our ambition is for the students to engage with companies in a number of innovative processes where they focus on recreating existing products and creating new products from upcycled materials.

The students will present their concepts, process and prototype to teachers and companies for feedback, says Lykke Margot Ricard.

-By rethinking our Master engineering programme, we will prepare our candidates for a future where they think beyond the traditional uses of materials and instead rethink circular material flow and develop new methods to make the best possible use of sustainable materials, says Lykke Margot Ricard.