Rachel Alexander

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Dr Rachel L Alexander BSc(Hons), PGCE, MRes, EngD


Tel: +44 1792481000
E-mail: Rachel.Alexander@uwtsd.ac.uk

I lecture in Materials Science, Management, Manufacturing and Mathematics. I am the PTL of Pembrokeshire College. I am the Programme Director of the CertHE Programme for Digital Skills, Skills for Electronics, Skills for Engineering and Professional skills for construction streams and I am the Girls into STEM co-ordinator for the School of Engineering.

I am passionate about getting more girls into engineering and have run workshops and summer schools within the university for school pupils. I am a link engineer for Gowerton School, I am a STEM Ambassador and I have been a judge for the F1 project and at the Big Bang Fair.

After graduating, I started my career in research at British Steel specialising in mathematical modelling of the run-out table. I was asked to join the project team on the multi-million-pound project, revamping the hot mill at Llanwern and worked as a capital projects engineer throughout that project, before further promotion to senior systems engineer, the first female in engineering to reach that level there.

After having my children, I taught mathematics and IT in schools and FE colleges and in Sony on a part-time basis and I taught part of the professional accountancy qualifications at SIHE. Once my children were older, I started a consultancy company with Tata as my main client and was part of the team installing the SAP information system rollout across seven sites in the UK.

All seven sites were within budget and on time, a very unusual occurrence for IT projects. I was then sponsored by Tata Steel Europe to do a research Masters and Engineering doctorate, working with an industrial supervisor in Shotton Works and an academic supervisor in Swansea University, researching degradation in organically coated steel products. Following my doctorate, I started work as a full-time lecturer at UWTSD.


  • BSc(Hons) Mathematics and Physical Sciences
  • MRes Steel Technology
  • PGCE 11-18 Mathematics
  • EngD Materials Science
  • Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology
  • Member of the Institute of Materials Minerals and Mining

My first experience of lecturing at UWTSD was as a part-time lecturer in the Business School teaching Accountancy students part of their professional qualifications for CIMA and ACCA:

  • CIMA Paper 4 Organisational Management and Information Systems
  • ACCA Paper 2.1 Information Systems
  • ACCA Paper 3 Business Information Management

I started as a full-time lecturer at UWTSD in 2015 and have taught from foundation to Master’s level including the following modules:

  • Materials and Introduction to Manufacturing
  • Engineering Applications and Study Skills
  • Management of Engineering Projects
  • Management Innovation and Sustainability
  • Advanced Processes and Materials
  • Physical Sciences for Materials
  • Materials in Service
  • Research Methods
  • Manufacturing with Materials
  • Group Project
  • Engineering Management Leadership
  • Manufacturing Design and Technology
  • Structure and Properties of Materials
  • Applied Analytics
  • Leadership Innovation and Product Development

My industrial research was mainly on heat transfer and control of run-out tables on the hot mill, in order to obtain precise control of the cooling pattern of steel, after rolling and before coiling. I wrote and programmed a mathematical model to input which water banks were on and then to predict the temperature the steel would reach at the position of the pyrometers on the run-out table. This model was then ‘fine-tuned’ against real-time data and the SAS historical data for many types of steel. The model was used to design the new run-out table in the revamp of Llanwern Hot Mill and subsequently Port Talbot Hot Mill.

I analysed the operation of the finishing mill to find the bottleneck (which was the coilbox), researched the coilbox operation, modelled changes to the operation and then altered the ladder diagram in the GEM80 PLC to install changes, that were responsible for increasing the speed of the coilbox and hence the whole of the finishing mill, by 3 seconds per coil, which was hugely profitable to British Steel.

My academic research interests are the analysis of the effectiveness of accelerated weathering techniques to accurately predict the weathering of coated steel, using thermal analysis and nuclear magnetic resonance; the characterisation and early detection of degradation in PVC-coated steels using image analysis, Fourier Transform Infra-Red Spectroscopy, Ultraviolet visible spectroscopy, dynamic mechanical analysis and thermal analysis.

I am a qualified mathematics teacher(PGCE), with a first degree in Mathematics and Physical Sciences, a Masters of Research in Steel Technology and an Engineering doctorate in Materials Science. I have twelve years of experience in the steel industry including industrial research, mathematical modelling, capital project engineering working on multi-million pound projects and as a senior system engineer. I have taught mathematics in schools and FE colleges and I am currently lecturing in maths, manufacturing, management and material sciences at UWTSD.

I am a Programme Manager and PTL for Pembrokeshire College. I am a fellow of the HEA and was nominated for a teaching award and I teach on the Mechanical Engineering programme, which recently came 1st in the UK for student satisfaction with teaching and feedback in the Guardian Best Universities in the UK 2021.

The Application of a Finite Difference Heat Transfer Model to the Design and Operation of Steel Strip Cooling Systems July 1989 Rachel Alexander

Thermal Analysis as a Tool for Assessing the Degradation of PVC-coated Constructional Steel August 2014 Rachel Alexander, John Arnold, Sue Alston, Justin R Searle

Accelerated Weathering Rachel Alexander (MRes Thesis) Swansea University 2011

The characterisation of degradation in PVC-coated steels and the development of novel methods of detection. Rachel Alexander (EngD Thesis) 2017.