Meet the Experts...
Althea de Souza
Dr Althea de Souza has been teaching at PETA half a day a week since the start of the year and she enjoyed it so much that she decided she’d like to do more. From August, she will join the engineering team at our Training Centre in Havant three days a week as a tutor. Althea is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, a FEANI certified EurIng and a NAFEMS accredited PSE.
Having obtained both of her degrees from the University of Portsmouth, Althea remained in the area after completing her studies. For the last 10 years she has been running a micro-consultancy, focusing on engineering simulation, specifically computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and she intends to continue this work around her new role at PETA.
Tell us about your new role…
I’m joining the team as an Engineering Tutor and will be working with PETA’s engineering apprentices. I’ll primarily be doing tutoring in core engineering subjects such as maths and engineering principles and any other related subjects as needed. Although it will involve mainly classroom-based teaching I will also be involved with off-site visits, by taking the apprentices to community engineering events. These enrichment activities are useful to trigger discussions around the practical application of the subjects studied, as well as how engineering is relevant to all areas of our lives. Engineering ties in with everything we do, see and use, as almost everything around us has been engineered in some way. It’s a thought-provoking concept!
What’s your teaching style?
Collaborative. You can’t make someone learn if they don’t want to, so I like to work with learners to help them gain understanding and knowledge, which usually leads to more enthusiasm for learning. Communication goes both ways; I listen to them to ascertain what support they require and then tailor my teaching so they gain the knowledge needed to succeed.
What experience do you draw upon when teaching?
I draw upon my previous teaching activities with PETA and my experiences of presenting postgraduate short courses on the industrial use of CFD. I will also use my industrial experience in teaching. My work involves fluid dynamics and how flow behaves within systems, which is rarely possible to see or measure directly. By using engineering simulation, this behaviour can be visualised but since this isn't something most people are familiar with, it usually requires considerable explanation! I really enjoy explaining concepts and teaching is an extension of that.
I am looking forward to learning more about teaching styles when I commence my PGCE FE in September.
What’s your top career achievement?
I’ve been active as a volunteer for NAFEMS since 1998 and chaired the NAFEMS CFD technical working group since 2002, which provides best practice guidance on the industrial use of CFD technologies. Although this is voluntary work that has to be fitted around commercial activities, maintaining it over many years and alongside different jobs is a huge achievement and I feel I am making a difference. I’m also an active STEM ambassador, keen to bring STEM subjects to life and encourage young people to consider the many benefits that STEM careers provide.
If your learners take away just one thing from your tutorials, what will it be?
To accept that maths is vital to engineering and that they can do it! I meet so many people who think they simply cannot do maths, but I want them to open their minds to it and have confidence in their abilities. I believe that if you don’t understand something, you just need to try a different approach until you achieve understanding. I want to pass this on to the apprentices and help them really get to grips with the subjects studied so they can go on to a successful career in engineering.
What made you want to work for PETA?
Everyone who comes to PETA does so because they want to learn. We’re not forcing people to do something they don’t want to do, they’ve chosen to attend so they’re motivated and I really enjoy working in that environment. The staff at PETA are lovely too - they’ve all been extremely welcoming and supportive and I’m looking forward to getting to know the team better.
Find out more about the engineering apprenticeships PETA offer.
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