The Natural Edge Project The Natural Advantage of Nations Whole System Design Factor 5 Cents and Sustainability Higher Education and Sustainable Development

"Today, there is a need to reinvent development. A new paradigm can only be achieved by many stakeholders working together and tackling economic, as well as social and environmental issues with equal results."
Jose Maria Figueres, Senior Managing, Director of the World Economic Forum

Principles and Practices in Sustainable Development for the Engineering and Built Environment Professions

Assessment Information

Assessment Summary


On completion of the three day course, participants will be provided with a Certificate of Participation. For students seeking credit for a 10 Credit Point value course, assessment requirements comprise the following:

  • 15% (Daily during Course): Short written items at the conclusion of each day’s learning.

  • 25% (Day 3 - Evening): Individual presentation task. Given the activities and discussions undertaken during the course, students will choose their topic for the major assessment item. Students will present a 5 minute summary of the rationale of their proposed topic and intended methodology to an audience.

  • 60% (Post-Attendance): Major Assessment Item (Due within 3 weeks of course completion). Students will research a minimum of 10 key papers in relation to their topic (literature review) and prepare a paper, drawing on their professional context. Depending on the quality of the papers produced, there may be the opportunity for actual submission and/ or publication.

More detail will be provided on each assessment item in accordance with usual assessment briefing requirements, prior to commencement of the short course.

The course facilitators will be available via email on completion of the course, for questions relating to the major assessment item.

Course Accreditation

Satisfactory completion of coursework and associated assessments will be formally recognised as credit towards the RMIT Master of Sustainable Practice (Supervisor - Associate Professor Roger Hadgraft, School of Civil and Chemical Engineering).

Each course is equivalent to one quarter of a Graduate Certificate. RMIT postgraduate credit is recognised at a number of Australian and International Universities.


Sample Quizes

Unit 1

  1. From the learning points and the background reading, list three examples of where in the past engineers have designed for sustainability and three examples where engineered innovations have since created as many problems as they solved.

  2. List two to five significant and famous engineering icon achievements.

  3. Are any of those you have listed examples of design for sustainability? If not…(see Q 4)

  4. What societal needs and services were these engineering projects seeking to meet?

  5. How could engineers today go back to the drawing board and re-examine the problem again to meet those needs through designing for sustainability? Broadly speaking what are some of the sustainable enabling technologies or new design techniques available today that could assist to achieve this?
    List one global phenomenon that is a major driver of weather on the planet?

  6. List an international example of a country that has undergone significant innovation within its national system of innovation.

  7. List three examples of beneficial outcomes from the above program.
    riefly describe the ‘waves of innovation’ model, and the concept of the ‘sixth wave’ of innovation.

Unit 2

  1. Explain the difference between resource productivity, resource efficiency and resource intensity. Refer to Brief Background Information.

  2. List two incentives to industry to address material flows in their products and services.

  3. Define ‘Material Input Per Service Unit’.

  4. What are four points to consider when selecting a pump? What are the implications of failing to consider each point? Refer to Lamb, G. (2005) ‘User’s guide to pump selection’, WME Magazine July 2005, pp 40-41.

  5. What strategy did Jan Schilham use to design the pipes and pumps system at Interface’s Shanghai plant? How does this strategy differ from the conventional strategy that was used originally?

  6. What specific design features in the pipes and pumps system lead to the small pumping energy? Discuss the features that would lead to a similar reduction in pumping energy in an air conditioning system. Refer to von Weizsacker, E. et al (1997).

  7. List the four Whole System Design Principles developed in Natural Capitalism.

  8. Choose one principle and briefly describe an engineering design example to illustrate it.

Unit 3

  1. Define the term ‘Biomimicry’.

  2. List and summarise the three principles of Biomimicry.

  3. List the key steps in the Biomimetic Design Method.

  4. Name two examples of information sources and/or networks that can help engineers and designers find information about natural systems?

  5. Define ‘Green Chemistry’.

  6. Define ‘Green Engineering’.

The Natural Edge Project Engineering Sustainable Solutions
Program is supported by the Australian National Commission
for UNESCO through the International Relations Grants
Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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