Some of you are aware the last year I spent 7 grand getting myself a Waste Management post grad cert from Griffith University. As you can see from the link, I only just squeaked in. It was ideal in two ways: online (commute to Queensland? ah, no) and it was closer to what I wanted to do than, say Environmental Science, which is a bit broader.
This whole ‘what I want to do’ thing.. have I blogged about this yet?
Actually if you don’t want to read my digression you can skip straight to the point of this post.
Here is an example, hot off the presses: KU Leuven (Netherlands) is implementing a recovery system for extracting rare earths from end-of-life (i.e. burnt out) fluorescent lamps. How cool is that?!? About 3 years ago, I latched on to the idea that we should be recycling electronics rather than sending them to landfill. Think about it: Moore’s Law has been in effect for at least a century; how much new technology has superceded old technology? At that time, I knew literally nothing about recycling electronics. So I started reading. Much to my surprise and delight, I was actually fascinated by what I was reading, and I wanted to know more. It wasn’t just a passing fad. Attention was holding!
For those who don’t already know: puppies and kittens have better concentration skills than I do.
I created a separate Trello board to organise what I was learning and take notes. I’m constantly adding to it. Literally. I find old notes and chuckle to myself, what a noob I was. Now, after several years, I am starting to get familiar with what is out there. Occasionally I’ll find something new and it’s already there. If you’d like to see it, I’ll invite you.
I created a website http://beemout.org and a Twitter account @beemout_org. I also have http://elementalrecovery.com. In theory, the Beemout side is the collection of electronics and the Elemental Recovery side is the processing.
I started a business case. It’s pretty but it has lagged. I’m finding that numbers are really not my thing. Every time I try to do the numbers, there are too many variables, and I’m not sure what to simplify in order to create a justifiable profit model. Justifiable being the key word.
For the first time in my life, I have something concrete that I could say to my younger self. This whole process has led me to believe that I am much more fascinated by problems of the “scientific” and “logistical” kind rather that problems of the “financial” kind or of the “getting the project done on time and on budget” kind.
Delving into this world of electronic recycling has also raised my awareness of how much friggin waste people make. We are literally destroying our host.
The point of this post
So, after lots of reading of cutting edge research (thanks to my university access while working for the Uni of Western Sydney, plus access while a student at Griffith), I started looking into Masters and PhD programs in order to get more education and practical knowledge. This is the work I want to do – stuff like in the link to KU Leuven above. As it turns out there are some great researchers in NSW particularly at UNSW. I went to talk to Veena Sahajwalla, who has been on TV a number of times, and has multiple honours and awards, and also has practical experience in implementing innovative improvements to material recovery. She heads up the SM@RT centre at UNSW.
She was so positive about what I wanted to do, and she agreed to be my supervisor! I could not believe it! I figured something would happen to shatter the dream world I seemed to have entered.
I applied for a Masters of research within the materials science section in the School of Chemical Engineering. I had to provide a research plan, references (thankfully I knew the UWS Chair of Academic Senate, and an expert on waste and e-waste and adviser to the UN), and other documentation.
Just last Monday, I was accepted!
I am already plotting ways to use my student discount.