15 May 2024. Brought to you by Taya Stankevych.

Alexander Dhesi

What is your current job / programme of study?

Sustainability and materials innovation consultant at Useful Projects / Expedition Engineering 

What A-Levels (or equivalent) did you do? 

Maths, Chemistry, Physics, English Literature 

Why did you choose a career in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)? 

I enjoyed the sciences and maths at school, but not enough to go all-in with a degree. My school chemistry department arranged a visit to the Oxford University Materials Department, where I saw a battery lab catch fire… and my mind was made. I see materials science as a multi-disciplinary practice, which spans all the sciences, maths, engineering, design and even written communications. Everything is made of something, after all.  

What did you enjoy most about your MSE course? (If you didn’t do a MSE course which course did you do and what led to you MSE?) 

I most enjoyed applying nano-scale analytical experimental techniques to materials which we use in large-scale applications every day. Understanding the variety of approaches required to optimise different materials at an atomic scale has changed the way I view my own daily materials use and consumption habits.  

What is your research about?  

My undergraduate research investigated the use of a bio-based material (lignin) as a carbon-dense precursor for production of carbon fibre.  

My master’s dissertation was an investigation of the ‘circular economy’ for the UK infrastructure construction industry, examining strategies and challenges associated with increasing demand for reusable building materials.  

What is the coolest thing you have done in your career so far?  

Delivering the valedictorian speech at my UoB graduation ceremony, where quantum physicist Professor Jim Al-Khalili also spoke.  

What do you see yourself doing in the future? 

I am currently working as a sustainability and materials consultant for a structural engineering firm. Much of my work centres around incoming planning and legislative requirements to build with low-carbon materials and to provide evidence that designs have considered sustainable principles.  

Going forward I hope to contribute to the emerging circular economy for construction materials, through practical materials research and development towards the conversion of demolition waste into useful products for new buildings.  

What is your favourite material (and why)?  

My favourite material is any material which has already been produced..! Existing stocks of material resource represent a hugely underutilised asset for future development while minimising raw material extraction and the associated environmental impacts. 

What advice would you give your 16 year old self? 

To spend a little more time on maths… 


Alexander Dhesi | LinkedIn 

Out of Material | Podcast on Spotify