TEDI-London collabs with Restart to host student-led community repair initiative

The Engineering & Design Institute London (TEDI-London), the capital’s recently-opened higher education provider specialising in engineering, launched its repair initiative for the local community last Friday.

The ‘restart party’ event, which is the first of an ongoing series, was developed and run by TEDI-London’s 2023 winter residential school cohort in collaboration with Restart, a social enterprise based in London. 

The event saw members of the Canada Water community arrive on campus with their slow or damaged small electrical devices and appliances to be diagnosed and, if possible, fixed. TEDI-London students worked alongside their teaching technicians and local, technically-savvy volunteers, to encourage guests to restore their belongings wherever possible, and minimise the amount of electronic waste (e-waste) they produce.

With the help of repairers, guests were also invited to make their own attempts at restoring their electronic goods, providing an opportunity to learn new skills and develop the confidence to undertake other repair tasks in the future.  

“It’s been amazing to see how much our winter school cohort has achieved in just three weeks,” commented Professor Julie Bregulla FREng, Director of Innovation at TEDI-London.

“Thanks to the support we received from our industry partners – including RS Group, BIOHM, Korn Ferry, and ANSYS –, the students learned about the importance of circular design principles and economy, as well as understanding the financial and logistical implications of how to implement their own initiative.”

“As such, they were able to develop a well-rounded events business plan that not only facilitates repairs for the Canada Water community, but also encourages community engagement, educates new repairers, and makes use of unrepairable items to further reduce e-waste.” 

With support from TEDI-London staff and industry experts, the repair initiative has been wholly organised by the university students themselves; a first for a Restart partnership. This resonates with the aim of TEDI-London’s founding partners – Arizona State University (ASU), King’s College London and UNSW Sydney –: to educate up and coming engineers through projects that make a real-world impact.

A longstanding community initiative, which also helps to prevent redundant electrical consumer goods from reaching landfill, demonstrates TEDI-London’s commitment to this mission. Through leveraging their own knowledge around circular economy alongside their practical repairing skills, the students were able to divert 7 electrical items from landfill at the launch event alone – a saving of 26.8kg in carbon emissions – despite having limited time to market their initiative. 

Isabella Mascarenhas, Vice President, Grass Roots Education & Social Impact at RS Group concluded: “Like the projects that comprise TEDI-London’s main degree curriculum, it was fantastic to see how the 2023 winter school project helped the students understand the importance of circular economy, and to see this reflected in the teams’ outputs.

“Having worked with several universities’ engineering programmes in the past, values such as sustainability and global responsibility are often overlooked, despite engineering students having the power to make real, positive change once they graduate. I’m proud to work so closely with a university that is paving the way for conscientious, ethical engineers of the future, and preparing them properly for the challenges to come.”