Richard Masters - Programme Leader for Aerospace and Sustainability

What is your name?
Richard Masters

What institution are you a student or staff member at?
Exeter College Technology Centre

What is your role at the institution?
Programme Leader for Aerospace and Sustainability

What drives you to champion sustainability?
Nearly 30 years as an education and CIS expert in the Royal Navy and NATO where I often worked as an operation planner to implement United Nations mandates.

What does an average day look like?
I normally get up an hour earlier than I need to and scan the latest science and technology websites to see if there’s anything I can induct into my teaching that day. As a full-time lecturer, I teach every academic subject in engineering from GCSE to second year degree level.  I act as the college’s union (UCU) representative for Health & Safety and the Environment and sit on both committees.  I continually update my sustainability database of contacts in industry and the community. I also sit on the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) regional committee so some evenings are spent either supporting or participating in one of their events.

What do you think are the most important things everyone in the UK can do to help contribute towards a more sustainable society? 
If possible people should use public transport, cycle or car share, repair, re-use, recycle, allow gardens to grow longer than normal and plant bee and butterfly friendly plants, use low energy light-bulbs and economic settings on heating and tools – there are so many things that can make a cumulative difference.

What are your sustainability pet peeves?
There are thousands of community sustainability projects led by wonderful volunteers who would be only too pleased to have support and advice from students for their sustainability related aspects.  However, the rigidity of most curricula and assessment requirements often stifles student learning opportunities in these areas.   

I also feel we should encourage students from different faculties to work together on the same projects and encourage them to develop their own mentoring/professional contacts using the latest business connectivity tools like LinkedIn - this will be a significant aid to all students’ through life learning.

What role do you think Universities and Colleges have in contributing towards sustainability?
To embed awareness of the UN SDGs throughout all learning which will be carried into the real world. I believe that the embedding of the UN’s SDGs in all learning will bring about much needed consistency and direction to the aims of all curricula to meet future student, business and planetary demands.

What is one thing you wish you knew about sustainability when you were younger?
The fact that petrol would not run out by the end of the last century and that every tree is precious.

Tell us something unusual about sustainability at your institution or organisation that other people might not know.
We maintain a database of potential sustainability projects within the college and with the local community which are suitable for student study and projects.

What opportunities and challenges have you experienced in your role in sustainability?
There are many opportunities for my students to engage with REAL people and REAL projects which often have REAL and beneficial outcomes.  The challenges are generally in mapping the curriculum and assessment criteria to the quality assurance requirements.

What do you hope sustainability in the UK looks like in 10 years’ time?
I hope we have a paradigm shift which uses the UN SDGs to embed the development of usable real-world skills underpinned by higher education and mediated via appropriate open-ended professional networking.

What are the benefits of EAUC membership? 

As winners of a Green Gown Award last year (2018) and this year (both wins for Student Research with Impact), I believe that membership has given us the opportunity to show that we are currently sector leaders in delivering what the majority of higher level students and employers will want from their learning in future.
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