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LCA and ecodesign teaching via university-industry cooperation

Cassiano Moro Piekarski (Sustainable Production Systems Laboratory, Department of Industrial Engineering, Federal University of Technology – Paraná (UTFPR) , Brazil)
Fábio Neves Puglieri (Sustainable Production Systems Laboratory, Department of Industrial Engineering, Federal University of Technology – Paraná (UTFPR) , Brazil)
Cristiane Karyn de Carvalho Araújo (Sustainable Production Systems Laboratory, Department of Industrial Engineering, Federal University of Technology – Paraná (UTFPR) , Brazil)
Murillo Vetroni Barros (Sustainable Production Systems Laboratory, Department of Industrial Engineering, Federal University of Technology – Paraná (UTFPR) , Brazil)
Rodrigo Salvador (Sustainable Production Systems Laboratory, Department of Industrial Engineering, Federal University of Technology – Paraná (UTFPR) , Brazil)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 4 October 2019

Issue publication date: 4 October 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report on a life cycle assessment (LCA)-based ecodesign teaching practice via university-industry collaboration in an industrial engineering undergraduate course.

Design/methodology/approach

A new course was designed and taught in the Industrial Engineering undergraduate course of a Federal University in Brazil. The course comprised explanatory lectures and a practical project developed in a partnership between the university and an industry partner where students had to develop Ecodesign proposals based on LCA to improve the environmental profile of both solid and reticulated paint brushes. To that end, students used the LCA software tool Umberto NXT v.7.1.13 (educational version), where they modeled the life cycle of four plastic brushes and assessed it using the impact categories of climate change and resource consumption, and the Ecoinvent v.3.3 database. After course completion, students, professors and industry collaborators were asked to provide feedback on the project performance and expectations.

Findings

The course design used was welcomed by both students and the industry partner. Students found the novel approach intriguing and useful to their future careers. The results also exceeded the industry partner’s expectations, as students formulated valuable insights. Professors observed that learning was made easier, as content was put into practice and internalized more easily and solidly. The approach was found to be a win-win-win.

Practical implications

Students acquired a fair share of knowledge on sustainability issues and potential existing trade-offs, which is valuable to industrial practices. The industry noticed the valuable contributions that academia can provide. The university profited from providing students with a real case challenging traditional teaching methods.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is one of the first case studies to show how LCA and ecodesign teaching practice can support sustainability learning in an industrial engineering undergraduate course.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).

Conflict of interest: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Citation

Piekarski, C.M., Puglieri, F.N., Araújo, C.K.d.C., Barros, M.V. and Salvador, R. (2019), "LCA and ecodesign teaching via university-industry cooperation", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 20 No. 6, pp. 1061-1079. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-11-2018-0206

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited