Meet Jon Russell of saVRee
saVRee produces high quality online engineering video courses for the engineering market. Their courses are presented using interactive, multilayered 3D models and 3D animations which allow students to see exactly what is happening inside the machine being studied. Alison spoke to the man behind saVRee, Managing Director Jon Russell, to find out more about his past life as an engineer and his experience of publishing educational videos.
I don’t have a history in the fields of publishing or education. I left school when I was about 16 and I trained as a marine engineer. I decided I wanted to teach people about engineering and decided to quit my job and start my own company. And that’s where we are today, a couple of years later. 40,000 subscribers on YouTube, over 25,000 online students on Alison as well as on other platforms and we continue to grow.
I wanted to get the saVRee name out there and Alison has got a lot of students and the platform is very clean. It’s a reputable company we’re happy to be associated with (and hopefully vice-versa!) and it opens us up to a lot more people, perhaps people who didn’t realise they’d be involved in engineering but who don’t mind doing a few basic courses. I think that’s the big benefit.
I’ve a lot of experience and knowledge now in engineering, but I’ve always been reluctant to call myself an expert. I learn something new pretty much every day, that’s the joy of working in the engineering field.
The best advice I would give publishers on Alison is make sure you publish a video course because setting up the courses takes a lot of time otherwise!
The way we use interactive 3D models in our courses and the way we animate everything is something that makes me proud. We’re bringing something new to the table that hasn’t been there before. I think the introduction to internal combustion engines course is probably one of my favourites and one that’s relevant to many, many people if they want to learn about engineering. A diesel engine is something that has changed the world in a very significant way.
Start saVRee’s course
Every course we publish we try and build the knowledge from the ground up and to take it slow. I think there’s a lot of people out there who don’t really grasp the fundamentals, the theory of engineering. They learn a lot via doing and participating but the basics sometimes get lost along the way. The idea in a lot of the courses that we publish at saVRee is that we want to make sure that people can think through the problem, rather than just learn it and repeat it, which is what a lot of people do and what the education industry in general seems to encourage.
I believe in free education, especially high quality education. When I left school I didn’t do A-Levels or anything like that. Then when I’d already become chief engineer on a boat I actually started doing a degree with the Open University and then I got a Bachelors of Engineering degree. And then I got a Bachelors of Engineering Honours after that. I’m a massive fan of free education. I think there should be more things that are open, rather than trying to put a price on knowledge. That’s one of the reasons we try and price saVRee so low is to make sure that as many people as possible can have access to high quality knowledge.
Knowledge is power, that is always true. And the more you learn the more I think you realise you don’t actually know. I’d encourage people to learn as much as possible about as many different things as possible in order to get balance and perspective. There’s nothing worse than listening to somebody prattle on about something they think they know a lot about but they don’t really know what they’re talking about.
How to Think Like an Engineer would be the course I’d like to do the most. I know that doesn’t sound like an exciting course to a lot of people, but there’s a lot of people out there and they learn only by repetition and I find that quite sad. In the past we had people like Isambard Kingdom Brunel or Robert Stevenson, they didn’t have huge teams of people to design bridges and ships and tunnels. They did it all themselves using back of the envelope equations. If you take Brunel, he designed the first iron-hulled, coal-fired ship to cross the Atlantic. If he can do all that with that knowledge that he had over a hundred years ago, basic engineering mathematical scientific principles, then surely we can teach people in a course how to do that today.