Supervising Thomas Empson’s Ph.D. Research

thomas-empsonI just had my bi-monthly supervisory meeting with my Ph.D. student from London South Bank University, Thomas Empson. I really enjoy these meetings because Thomas is firing all cylinders and his work in sustainable production is moving full speed ahead.

Today, we discussed three of his current projects.

His Ph.D. thesis/dissertation study is the first, and foremost, of these projects. He’s just received his formal approval to proceed from the university’s ethics committee, so one of the most tedious (but nevertheless crucial) parts of the Ph.D. work is behind him! Two high-profile companies have just agreed to participate in his project–allowing him to study in great detail their cases of sustainable design and production.

Secondly, we discussed a conference abstract that we submitted and got accepted for development into a full paper and presentation at the upcoming the 21st International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (EPDE) conference, run each year by the Design Society. Our full paper is due March 4 and the conference will be held at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, September 12 & 13, 2019.

Our paper draws together parts of Thomas’ Ph.D. literature review and ties this background research on existing theories and models of sustainability to a project he’s running for the Design Museum, called The Great Competition, which is the third big project we discussed.

“The Great Competition is a new national design challenge for undergraduates for the 2018-19 academic year. It aims to promote greater industrial innovation and multi-disciplinary collaboration between design and engineering, encouraging students to develop innovative solutions to today’s most pressing social and environmental issues.

This year, undergraduate students are invited to respond to an industry-led live brief on sustainable manufacturing, inspired by the UK Government’s Industrial Society. A judging panel of leading experts across design, engineering and related fields will select the short-listed and winning submissions. Short-listed submissions will have the opportunity to take part in a designer-led masterclass and Awards ceremony in May 2019. The winning submission will also receive a cash prize of up to £3000. The Great Competition is delivered through the generous support of The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851”.  —The Great Competition webpage

Thomas’ work for The Great Competition was just featured on LSBU’s website, and I hope you’ll take a look at the article:

Branching out: LSBU research fellow tours universities UK-wide to promote The Great Competition

I’ve uploaded screenshots of the web page here, and you can view the original with live links at http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/about-us/news/the-great-competition

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Closing a Chapter

In preparation for our chapter, Tim Cole updated me on VBCPS's sustainability strategies.

Last month, while working on our chapter, Tim Cole and I discussed VBCPS’s sustainability strategies.

I’m celebrating a moment of success here before I hit the sack for the night.

I just submitted a full draft of a chapter called “Designing School Buildings to Enhance Performance and Learning” for a book called Marketing the Green School: Form, Function, and the Future that will be part of the Advances in Educational Marketing, Administration, and Leadership (AEMAL) Book Series.  To make that project more fun, I enlisted Virginia Beach City Public School’s Director of Sustainability, J. Timothy Cole, as my supporting author.

This chapter provides a way for me to share some of the research I did for my dissertation and to extend my knowledge — I got to learn from Tim’s successes in Virginia Beach.  Tim has helped create 8 LEED-quality school facilities (5 are certified and 3 are in process to become certified). He even helped pilot LEED v1 in the 1990s.

This is the second chapter I have completed in the two months since I’ve been home.  The other chapter is called “Bringing it all Together Through Group Learning.” It is for a Wiley publication called New Directions for HIgher Education. That project was fun because I got to work with the book’s editor, the illustrious Dr. Pamela Eddy.

Since returning home on August 23, I’ve also managed to compile and submit a dossier to my University, submit a grant proposal asking for funding to help  conduct future research, spend a good amount of time with my students, implement some new teaching techniques, and — this week — get my midterm grades in on time and prep to advise students.

Oh, yes, and tonight I also had a lovely dinner with my dad and step-mom, Joyce, who are in town on business!  It was a real treat to spend a few hours with them.  Joyce is the Director of Admissions for the Vet School at Virginia Tech and she is recruiting at Hampton University in the morning.

All this is  pretty typical in the day of a professor… but I will sleep well tonight, knowing that I’m doing the best job I can possibly be doing right now, despite all the odds I’ve stacked against myself.

It is really nice to step back, take a deep breath, and be thankful for work and health and a ray of happiness every now and then.

And now, to sleep.   There’s much more to do in the morning….

Promoting Sustainability at HU

HU Faculty Institute 2014-1-Shannon ChanceToday was a busy first day back at Hampton University.  The dean re-introduced me to the faculty with a big “welcome home!”  I have to admit,  my colleagues’ enthusiastic greetings made me feel like a superstar all day.

After the morning keynote sessions, the whole faculty headed over to the HU waterfront for our annual picnic. This year’s weather was amazing and the jazz ensemble sounded lovely.

The faculty wrapped up the afternoon with information sessions, one of which I helped facilitate.  My colleagues and I encouraged our peers to integrate environmental topics into the courses they teach.

You can view my Prezi online:  I showed a few images of how we integrate sustainability into architecture courses at HU.  I also discussed the “Educational Planning for Environmental Sustainability” course I teach in the summer at William and Mary.  I took the opportunity to promote student-centered pedagogies (which I studied at Dublin Institute of Technology) and the importance of getting students to generate new knowledge (a core idea in W&M’s School of Education).

Electric Storage Heat

The bricks in my electric storage heater.

Electricity costs a lot in Europe.  Years ago I’d heard the cost was generally six times as high as in the USA.  As a result, the Europeans are more careful about the way they use energy.  They try not to waste it.

Many Irish homes use electric storage heat.  The system mimics adobe construction of the southwestern United States.  It uses “thermal mass” (in the form of bricks) to soak up heat when it’s free (from the desert sun) or cheaper (at night when purchased from the utility company in Ireland).

The bricks hold the heat until the air on the outside gets colder than they are, and then they release the heat they are holding into the air to warm it.

I’ve posted photos of Keith, the maintenance guy for my apartment building, checking one of my electric storage heaters. They’re a bit difficult to get started at the beginning of the winter season.  Mine needed extra attention because a toddler who used to live in this apartment stuffed small plastic items into the heating units. Keith had to clean them out.

In any case, I hope this technology keeps getting used and improved, as it’s a system that makes a lot of sense environmentally.

Get heated at night (when electricity costs less) and absorb the heat energy to release it during the day.

From Theory to Practice

The class I taught this past summer at The College of William and Mary is being featured by the university’s public relations department for helping students move ideas into action and spurring environmental change.  Check it out at:

http://www.wm.edu/news/stories/2012/students-sustainable-dining-proposals-put-into-action-at-boehly-123.php

One of our many field trips in the summer “Educational Planning for Environmental Sustainability” class at William and Mary.  This one, to the campus herb gardens, was coordinated by student Justine Okerson and led by W&M’s current Sustainability Fellow, Patrick Foley.  The cafeterias at W&M get all the herbs they use from these gardens.