May 24, 2016, by Liz Cass
Banana skins and bank notes… why engineering and development go hand in hand
It is fitting that while he was carrying out fieldwork in Ghana Dr Michael Clifford was given the news that he had won an award for Internationalisation.
Dr Clifford, an associate professor in Engineering at The University of Nottingham, has been recognised by Universitas 21 for his long-term dedication to the furthering of international education.
The award recognises his impact and leadership in developing student learning both at home and in communities throughout the developing world.
In his field of mechanical engineering Dr Clifford has published more than 70 academic works, including teaching case studies on the use of appropriate technology in further education, whilst also integrating notions of sustainability and appropriate technology into the teaching of engineering at Nottingham to ensure students have a breadth of understanding of global challenges and their global responsibilities.
Drawing on his links with Tearfund, an international relief and development charity, he has sourced suggestions for engineering projects from Cambodia, India, Uganda, Mongolia, Bolivia, Kenya, Afghanistan, Nepal and many other developing countries.
Banana skins and bank notes
His innovative work to enhance the success and growth of global communities has seen Dr Clifford work on a variety of sustainable materials and technologies including yak wool, recycled banknotes, waste cardboard and the use of banana skins and leaves as a fuel source by communities across Africa.
These projects have solved practical problems and have provided sources of income generation for deprived communities across the globe. Students who have worked on these projects have been inspired to investigate the relationship between technology and development, and three have taken up summer placements overseas with Engineers Without Borders to experience the challenges of working with developing communities at first-hand.
He said that finding out he had won the award came as ‘a total surprise’ and felt ‘surreal’ but added that it was; ‘great to have some international recognition for my work on sustainability and internationalisation’.
The University of Nottingham Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Greenaway, said: “Mike’s contribution to internationalisation stems from the impact that he has had on students over a sustained period of time, both in terms of the challenges he sets in the classroom to ensure an understanding of the major challenges of technology, development and sustainability and the experience they have garnered working on projects that have had real impacts in the developing world. The activities that Mike has led have raised the awareness of the role that engineering and engineering students can play internationally in changing communities for the better.”
The hand-crafted wood and glass awards were presented at a special ceremonyas part of U21’s Annual Presidential Meeting, held at The National University of Singapore.