My favorite course I took at CHEM

I will tell you about a course I have found interesting during my studies called ‘Design meets biomaterials’ that is a part of CHEMARTS in Aalto University. CHEMARTS is a long-term strategic collaboration between two Aalto University’s schools, The School of Chemical Engineering  and The School of Arts. This course is about creating new concepts for the future use of cellulose and other biomaterials. The course is also encouraging students and researchers to explore biomaterials together in multidisciplinary teams. During the course we examined possible recipes of making different kinds of bio-based films, packaging, and other materials. 

Madina

The assignment was to familiarize with The CHEMARTS Cookbook and the Designing Cellulose for the Future (DWoC) project report and choose a concept we want to develop utilizing different materials and methods. Our team worked on the problem of lowering the use of plastic packages for the vegetable packaging. To make sure that our concept is specific enough we chose cucumber wrapping film made from bio-slime introduced on CHEMARTS cookbook. In many countries, it’s a pretty normal practice to wrap single cucumbers, therefore we thought it would be  nice to change them to bio-based ones. 

Our team was truly international. All four of us had different origins, which made things even more exciting! We had plenty of ideas and were able to compare the use of the same practice in Europe and Central Asia. Moreover, this course was available for both Bachelor’s and Master’s students. This made it possible for students with a different academic background and study level to work efficiently in multidisciplinary teams. We got a chance to take the most out of our knowledge in totally different spheres such as Art, Design and Chemistry. 

The teachers were very supportive during the course. There were several teachers helping us with our tasks including professor Tapani Vuorinen, Iina Solala and Talisa Dwiany. All of a sudden when we had already started the course, the whole world switched to the remote teaching mode. Obviously, it was an unexpected change for the teachers, but fortunately they handled it very well and the course was interesting also in online form. Even during this remote teaching time, our teachers  spent some time with each of the groups and helped the participants individually. They made sure we were working towards the right goal. 

There were 3 blocks of assignments during the course. The first one was to write a report about 3 methods/materials from the  Designing Cellulose for the Future (DWoC) research project. The next task was the teamwork described above. Since we were working online, we had Zoom sessions with our groupmates several times per week. The first meeting of the week was usually dividing the tasks and some research as a team, next ones were sharing new findings and finalizing the task as a single document. 

A flower and some bio-based material
Bio-based material drying on a fabric piece
A packaging material

The final task in the course was an individual assignment to develop an application idea by utilizing the CHEMARTS Cookbook or other inspirational sources and write a report with detailed description and photos about your creative material experiments. Personally, I was interested in unsustainable packaging of different cosmetic products and suggested replacing some of the packages with wood-based materials. The CHEMARTS Cookbook had a recipe about paper-making from the cardboard, which was an idea I could execute without access to the laboratory. I used basic equipment I had at home such as a kitchen knife and food blender. 

There was no traditional test examination at the end of the course. We had a final presentation day when all the teams presented their ideas to the whole class. The session was full of fresh and new ideas, regarding literally everything starting from the clothing items and ending with some suggestions regarding new types of facemasks suitable during the pandemic. The presentation was basically the final evaluation, hence each member of the group tried to show their contribution and make their project stand out from others. 


Madina Muratova  
Chemical Engineering  
Aalto study options  
Contact email: aaltosquad(at)aalto.fi  


To see more posts from the previous blog platform please visit: https://ourblogs.aalto.fi/en/more-than-the-degree  

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