SYMETA's HQ is based at Loughborough University. Earlier this week there was an opportunity to participate in an Inspiring Engineering Day to encourage potential university applicants to consider engineering. SYMETA's research is complex and difficult to explain in ways younger audiences can understand. We wanted to inspire our audience not to intimidate them with complex science.
We decided to look at things from an external perspective and took the theme of Sustainable Electronics. SYMETA's research will contribute to the worldwide quest for sustainable solutions to the insatiable demand for electronics with greater functionality which are smaller, cheaper, faster to produce and less harmful to the planet.
After introducing the students to the issues and challenges surrounding sustainable electronics we gave each student an old PC unit and asked them to dismantle it. The students were asked to think about which components might be recycled or reused and which would end up in landfill. In some cases, this was the first time a student had seen inside a PC. It gave students some insight into the complexity of the devices, the variety of the materials used and how 'old-fashioned' some of the technology was.
Throughout the session students were asked to think about how electronics could be refined to make them more sustainable and what roles engineers had to play in achieving this from design and material choice through to manufacturer and recycling.
As extension exercises the students used 3D printing pens and conductive ink to understand how different processes and materials might change conventional electronics.
The session picked up on some of SYMETA's key themes around developing new materials, designs and processes to produce devices which will meet future whilst limiting damage to the planet.