Graduating from the University of Sheffield in 2006, Pete worked in a mechanical and structural engineering consultancy before returning to do his PhD in 2009. In 2015, he was recruited into a new department of Multidisciplinary Engineering Education, creating and delivering practical classes in the University’s new Diamond building.
Pete’s work has primarily focused on Making, although he also teaches Computer-Aided Design. He is passionate about student leadership, autonomy and ownership of their learning, and loves partnering with students to create innovative learning environments and helping teaching staff to transform their design and build curricula. In 2017, he worked with a team of students to create The iForge, the UK’s first student-led makerspace. Open 24-7 and run by a team of 50 students, it is a relaxed, non-hierarchical peer learning environment where students learn practical skills and collaborate, both within and alongside the curriculum. It has seen more than 20,000 visits in less than three years, has over 3,000 registered users, and is developing a global reputation.
The facilities Pete has created have allowed him to support colleagues across the University to implement new pedagogies, allowing students the freedom and flexibility to own their learning. He has also advised institutions across the world, from Canada to Malaysia, on the benefits of student-led makerspaces and how to realise them in different contexts, with a particular focus on building community. In 2019, he established UNIMAKER, an international conference on Making in Higher Education for staff and students, bringing 80 participants from 25 institutions to The iForge in its first year. As a result, others have been inspired to start makerspaces at their own institutions.
Pete loves creating new and ambitious Making challenges, getting students to design and build novel musical instruments, or autonomous robotic sea creatures. He also oversees Student-Led Activities in Engineering, a community of makers building rockets, racing cars and bionic limbs, and co-founded Hackcessible, the UK’s first assistive technology hackathon. In 2018, he was awarded a prestigious Early Career Senate Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, recognising significant impact on practice within the University.