In these troubled times the challenges the world faces require, more than ever, the solutions from chemical and materials engineers. Whether it is about discovering novel ways to detect quickly the presence of a virus, developing technology for large scale cleaning and sterilising, or providing clever means to upscale antivirals and food supplies, there is simply no way these can be achieved without the input of our disciplines. Of course, the looming crisis of climate change persists, and that agenda has never been off our plate. Now throw in a looming global recession.
There has been a traditional notion that universities and schools are relatively recession proof. Companies and corporations come and go, but our institutions of learning endure. This is largely attributed to the nature of humanity, and the constant need to learn and create new knowledge. While at a macroscale the financial side of education is relatively robust and resilient, at the smaller and finer scales, for instance in subject areas and specific research disciplines, there is an almost contradictory huge dynamic ‘flux’, of changing and adapting to current trends and future new growth markets. For example, consider the emerging significance of biology in the chemical and materials engineering fields, which is matched by the rising importance of disruptive tech, incorporating AI and big data science. In the past year, our department has responded to global needs to invest in these areas of expertise, and both staff and students have and will continue to adapt and benefit from the changes. Hence, on the surface a university may appear relatively ‘static’ in terms of its larger purpose of providing higher level education but, beneath, the wheels are furiously turning to the winds of change.
Associate Professor & Head of Department
Chemical & Materials Engineering