Global Speaker Series: Dr. Andrew Dent Empowers Students to Make Better Consumer Choices

One of the world’s leading authorities on materials in design, Dr. Andrew Dent, spoke with Newark Academy students about the innovations occurring in material science to improve carbon footprints, as part of NA’s Global Speaker Series on January 27, 2022.

Dent, the Executive Vice President of Materials Research at Material ConneXion and Chief Material Scientist at Material Bank, discussed the environmental importance of shifting toward a circular economy, using a model of reusing and recycling, over a linear one in which resources are finite.

“Innovation in materials has taken us a long way – makes us safer, allows us to go faster, just improves our lives in general – but we’re having challenges with the amount of waste we’re producing,” he said.

Dent surprised many students with examples of how the world is improving its use of recyclable materials from “icky things” – such as sneakers being made from synthesized used bubble gum and wasted linen being recycled to create the shell of a Tesla.

“Material science is small but has an outsized impact,” he said. Dent concluded his presentation by highlighting the importance of consumer choice and what each student can do right now to help the environment.

“In your daily life, think about materials you are using and things you are wasting. Every time you use something that isn’t necessary, be mindful,” he said using plastic water bottles as an example. He urged students to understand what products are made from, research if they are ethically sourced and if they are created from recyclable materials when making their consumer choices.

“That is your choice, that is your power,” he said. “As a consumer, as a human, you have incredible power.”

Immediately following the talk, Dent held smaller breakout sessions for students interested in continuing the conversation on innovation approaches to material science.

Since 2008, NA’s Global Speaker Series Committee has brought distinguished individuals from around the world to address the NA community, enriching students’ understanding and broadening their intellectual horizons. The series is made possible through contributions to the Annual Fund.
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