Meet the Experts...
Richard joined PETA in 2018 keen to pass on over 35 years’ worth of knowledge gained from a variety of roles in the engineering industry. Starting his career as an apprentice toolmaker, on completion of his training he progressed onto other roles including a period of time teaching engineering at the Royal Navy School of Marine Engineering at HMS Sultan.
Richard’s role at PETA involves teaching across a range of courses including mechanical and theoretical engineering, health and safety, technical drawing, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and abrasive wheels.
For Richard, it’s all about the students and making sure that their learning experience is a positive one and that they go away with the knowledge they need to do their jobs well.
In his spare time, Richard enjoys building models, everything from aircraft and tanks to SiFi and figures. He is also a very keen sea fisherman and has fished Costa Rica, Norway and the Florida Keys three times with a personal best of a 500+ Hammerhead shark in 2013.
How do you approach each course?
I always take into consideration the learners’ ages, experience and backgrounds and try to tailor my teaching to suit the audience. Many of my students are 17-year-olds who may not have touched a machine before so I will always concentrate on health and safety first and foremost to ensure they are confident in that knowledge before they get started on the practical elements of the course.
My teaching style is professional but friendly. I like to ensure a relaxed atmosphere as it is more conducive to learning. I absolutely love teaching and interacting with the students. It’s all about them. The point when you’re teaching and you see the look on a student’s face that the penny’s dropped and they get it, is just priceless. Total job satisfaction.
Are your courses a mix of practical and theory?
Yes. There is of course theory work to do, which is very valuable, but the knowledge is really cemented when the learners get hands-on and start having a go themselves. I was told on a course I attended that when students do a practical task, they remember 90% of it, compared to a much lower percentage if they are merely told about it or shown.
Practical work helps you learn so much more and much faster too. Some of the tasks that I get my students to do are things like machining bits of metal and hand fitting parts and they are given additional tasks if they finish the assigned ones early, so we make sure everyone is kept busy!
I recently delivered a course to a corporate group of five students whose company had enrolled them onto a course together. On completion of the course the employer approached me and asked if I could tailor some extra hands-on training as part of an additional three-week placement to improve the employees’ skills further. So I tasked them with a project to make a hot air engine. They learned about the importance of making parts to the correct size, why this had to be done and how all the parted fitted together to make it work. It was a great success and the employer was very happy with the results.
What do you believe is the most important thing for learners to take away from your courses?
To do everything safely. I really want everyone on my courses to do the work and enjoy it, but most importantly, walk away in one piece! The machines used in many engineering disciplines can be dangerous if not used correctly, so health and safety practices are essential. Enjoying it is also important as when you enjoy something it becomes easier!
What elements of your own work experience do you draw upon when teaching?
I learnt a lot from the people who taught me at the start of my career. I was lucky enough to receive fantastic training as an apprentice and I’ll never forget the guy who trained me. He had a true passion for engineering and he certainly passed that onto me. You never remember a mediocre teacher, only the awful ones and the great ones! He was a great one and that is what I aspire to.
What are your most memorable work achievements?
I absolutely love teaching and witnessing students getting to grips with their learning and developing into competent engineers is really rewarding. I’ve also been lucky enough to have some great roles over the years, one of which that took me all over the world testing rigs for the automotive industry. I’m so grateful for those experiences as they were exceptional and led me to where I am today.
Why is PETA a great place to work?
The team spirit at PETA is brilliant. Everyone pulls together to make sure the best possible service is provided to the customer. I’m also very impressed with the students; we get many talented learners and they’re a pleasure to teach.
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