## Chris Palmieri

#### Mathematics and Engineering Tutor

**Subjects**

Mathematics and Problem Solving

Physics, Statics and Dynamics

Mechanical and Electrical Engineering: Fluid Mechanics, Heat Transfer, Engineering Design

Programming, Python, Excel, VBA

**Experience**

8+ yrs. tutoring and mentoring students ranging from 5 to 75 years old.

4+ yrs. industry experience in design, consulting and project management across commercial, medical research, government and Defence sectors.

**Education**

Bachelor of Engineering, (Honours) Mechanical at University of QLD

Bachelor of Arts at University of QLD

## University Tuition

Working with students to make their studies in engineering, maths and physics as effective and fulfilling as possible, my goal is to not just* *help students solve difficult assignment problems and prepare for exams - I teach my students the skills required to become efficient, independent and confident learners.

Blending experience from a professional background in engineering design with 8+ years of teaching, whether you need structured explanations of tough fundamental concepts, a guide to help fill in the knowledge gaps that are slowing down your learning, hands-on help with an assignment or a mentor to discuss your university studies and career direction, my tuition style is flexible in order to ensure your needs are met.

Check out this blog post to learn more about my university studies (and why I love to help students make the most of their studies).

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to drop me a message or if you are keen to get started as soon as possible, book a session now.

## Mathematics Foundations for High School and University Entrance

In addition to tutoring university students, I also provide tuition and mentoring for high school students as well as personalised courses for adults preparing for university entrance entrance exams.

By developing an understanding of preferred learning style, strengths, and weaknesses, we work together to develop problem solving techniques, learning habits, practical shortcuts and rules-of-thumb methods

Whether it be in developing personalised programs to provide students with exam preparation for university entrance or helping younger students gain an advantage by giving them the chance to learn fundamental concepts from an angle that makes sense via real-world examples and the help of handy tricks (a.k.a "math hacks") that foster confidence and independence, I am passionate about working with my students to reach their goals and ultimately allow them to both enjoy and excel at math.

Every student is unique, and by developing an understanding of preferred learning style, strengths, and weaknesses, we work together to develop problem solving techniques, learning habits, practical shortcuts and rules-of-thumb methods that turn math into an understandable, attainable and practical tool that can be used to attain success over a lifetime.

I thrive on watching my students grow and succeed, and believe that when provided with the right tools and guidance from a dedicated mentor it is possible for any student to achieve amazing results.

## The Challenges Faced by Engineering Students

In the first and second years of their university studies, students are exposed to a huge volume of new content which is generally delivered by professors whose years (or decades) of research experience have caused them to become disconnected with what it really is that the students need help with, often preferring to focus on the "interesting material" while completely neglecting the "boring stuff" (read: important concepts) which they assume the students either are either already proficient in or can quickly review without too much difficulty.

The problem is, this "boring stuff" (i.e the underlying mathematical techniques and physical concepts) may never have even been learnt in the first place, and even you were exposed to it once or twice in the past, you may have no idea where to find the material to review or even what to search for.

In addition to this, it isn't uncommon for engineering students to feel overwhelmed by the complexity and volume of assignment problems they are faced with, which of course take priority over reviewing fundamental concepts that you know you really should be taking the time to internalise but simply don't have the time for. It's an inefficient way to learn, but when you have an assignment due on Friday and there are two mid-sems the following Monday, you probably aren't going to be taking the time to do the recommended reading for that prac session tomorrow morning - showing up just to tick the attendance box after pulling an all-nighter studying for the exam is often the best you can do.

Of course while these types of "survival techniques" may get you through the first couple of semesters, the lack of understanding in key areas eventually catches up to most people and your need to decide whether to pick up your game or choose a different path . It's no wonder why engineering student attrition rates (particularly in first-year courses) are so high.

### Understanding Students Needs

While many of my students initially seek me out because they need help with a particularly difficult assignment that is due soon, they often decide to continue regular sessions after discovering the advantages of having someone guide them in their studies who not only has both a thorough understanding of the core engineering content in addition to professional design and consulting experience but *also has an intimate understanding of the struggle that so many engineering students face.*

### Where does this understanding come from?

I dropped out of my engineering studies after my first year and when I eventually came crawling back a few years later to pick up where I had left off, I realised (and for some reason was surprised) that I had completely forgotten the vast majority of even the most basic fundamental mathematical and physical concepts. I remember leaving my first "Dynamics and Orbital Mechanics" lecture with that sinking feeling that I had made a huge mistake. Watching the slides flash by I remember realising that no matter how closely I listened and how many notes I took, I barely understood a word the lecturer was saying.

I now realise I could have spent a lot less time spinning my wheels had I asked for help earlier.

During that semester it honestly felt like attaining just a *passing grade* would be a mammoth feat requiring superhuman intelligence, zero sleep, lethal doses of caffeine and a photographic memory. I remember how it felt to be writing hundreds of lines of code designed to manipulate matrices while not being able to remember what matrices were even used for, and how it felt to be using Wikipedia and Wolfram Alpha to relearn basic integration (as in, what does that symbol at the front of ∫*x dx *mean?!) so I could find the deflection of an I-beam under a variable distributed load Euler–Bernoulli beam theory.

While I had no idea how I was going to do it, I knew that this time I wasn't going to give in, and that this time I would do whatever it would take to complete my degree. It was long and painful grind - whenever I had a spare moment in between lectures, assignments, tutorials, pracs and exams (and while my friends who had made better life decisions than me, such as not dropping out uni, were partying, relaxing and generally having fun) I was back at home painstakingly piecing together, one topic at a time, the fundamentals from high school math, physics and chemistry *in addition to *first year calculus, programming, electrical engineering, statics and dynamics.

While it initially felt like I was fighting a losing battle, I persisted until I had amassed a library of notes in addition to learning tools such as web pages, apps and self-developed techniques to support me while continuously building upon this knowledge with more complex engineering concepts. In the end, I passed all of my courses (a feat that had seemed highly improbable several months prior) with much better grades than previously imagined, however I had spent a huge amount of time spinning my wheels: staring at scrawled notes from the lecturer knowing *what* had been written without understanding *why*, practicing questions without knowing whether the answers I was churning out were correct (or if they were, whether or not my method was) and wasting time looking for help in the wrong places.

While I don't regret putting in the hard work to internalise the several fundamental concepts, skills and techniques made the rest of my university studies a lot more manageable (many of which I still regularly in my work as an engineer), I now realise I could have spent a lot less time spinning my wheels had I asked for help earlier.

### A More Efficient Way to Learn

Prior to booking my first session with a private tutor I had seen myself as being in some way superior to those who had a tutor and had taken the "easy way out". What I didn't see then was the huge efficiencies that can be added to study when there is immediate and personalised feedback available. There were countless occasions where I couldn't make any sense of solutions provided by a lecturer or found online simply because they had skipped out one small step (assuming the audience would automatically make the connection) and as a result couldn't make any sense of the entire solution. To make it worse, in this type of situation it often isn't clear what you need to look up in order to make the connection, whether or not the questions is actually far too complex for you to be spending time on, or even if the solution is correct in the first place.

After frantically leafing through the lecture notes to check whether I had missed anything, or perhaps re-watching that section of the lecture recording to see if the lecturer explained it in more detail, I would start to question whether I should be focusing on something else - I'd now both wasted half an hour *and* learnt nothing.

If every time I came across this type of question I had simply marked it down on the list of questions to revisit with a tutor who could help me breeze through them a few days later, I would have had so much more time to focus on actual learning in my other courses as well as socialising and networking with my peers.

### Directed Learning

While there are always going to be those sessions where I sit down with my student and we need to spend the time smashing out a particularly difficult assignment question, or perhaps checking answers on a practice exam paper for which no answers have been provided to students for self checking, the most effective sessions are often those where I am able help students break several difficult problems down into smaller chunks, leaving them with the choice of whether they will spend the time finishing the questions off to gain some extra practice with the basic concepts or spend the time focusing on the next difficult assignment.

Students who seek out a private tutor are generally those who take their studies quite seriously, and this "directed learning" approach allows them to work at the pace that works best for them.