HULUKU 2022: In conversation with Flordeliza C. De Vera of Mapua University Manila
Q1: Tell us a little about yourself, what are you up to at the moment?
Flor: I am an assistant professor handling undergraduate chemical engineering courses in Mapúa University.
Q2: Does the place you live or are from inspire you in your work or life and if so how?
Flor: I live in the greater Manila area, where many opportunities lure those in the provinces to come and find their niche. It can be an inspiring place to have a quality life not just for myself but also for my family. I meet a lot of people who are good examples of great personality with talent.
Q3: Ambition, Luck or Talent? What matters most in the creative world but also within learning environments?
Flor: For me, all three are important and work hand-in-hand. Ambition pushes one to excel in the talent one possesses. With ambition, one does not settle on just the talent. One tries to learn more to improve their skill or knowledge base. Luck can sometimes be responsible for exposure and being discovered or recognized in the field.
Q4: What would you like to achieve that you haven’t been able to yet?
Flor: This is not related to art. I want to finish my doctorate program.
Q5: Who is your creative inspiration or mentor?
Flor: In terms of creativity and talent in the arts, my husband comes first. My son and daughter got from him their talent in creative and visual arts. My children are also good in performing arts. I also do not engage in the creation of artworks. I just admire and appreciate.
Q6: Do you have a favourite design, scientific or artistic movement? Why?
Flor: I do not have formal training in art and I do not have a specific favorite movement. But I appreciate the work of Filipino masters like Fernando Amorsolo, BenCab, Ang Kiuko, Vicente Manansala, and Botong Francisco. I also like digital art that I see my children explore or create. I also like the art of Van Gogh.
Q7: What style or technique in science, art and design makes you feel the happiest/or feel good?
Flor: I like nature, geometric designs, and still life. I also appreciate art pieces created using our indigenous and local materials.
Q8: How would you describe your approach to teaching scientific subjects in creative ways?
Flor: I try to include diagrams and videos when I teach specific concepts because most modern learners are visually motivated.
Q9: Tell us a little about MAPUA and the classes you teach?
Flor: Mapúa was initially known as a technological institution that specializes in architecture and engineering. It was in the year 2000 when it started offering a multitude of other programs after it applied for university status. It’s school year is divided into four (4) quarters, each with a contact time of eleven (11) weeks. I usually teach advanced mathematics in chemical engineering and chemical reaction engineering although I handle other majoring courses from time to time. I also regularly handle Methods of Research, Thesis, Plant Inspection and Seminars, and On-the- job training.
Q10: Do you always look for external events or comps to inspire the class or is this a new thing?
Flor: Beginning school year 2018-2019, students were required to have a global experience which could be in the form of participation in international seminars, conferences, plant visits, and contests, or conduct of thesis in partner universities abroad. Due to the pandemic, we had to find alternative activities that will allow the students to comply with such. Students participated in virtual international conferences, seminars, and contests. Some contests were technical while others were not.
Since we train our students to write good research manuscripts, we also encouraged them to write non-technical pieces when they participate in essay contests.
Q11: The class was successful with their entries. How did you find embedding the concept and the competition itself (timeline, entry requirements, platform access etc) into your class?
Flor: We started looking for contests that impart values last 2020. We had to make sure that the contest timeline is the same as the quarter when a specific batch of students will enroll. We also looked for contests where students do not need to spend in order to participate. The deadline of entries was set earlier than the actual contest deadline to give time for students to upload a copy of their work and proof of submission of entry to our learning management system.
Q12: Why do you think the class was so interested in getting involved in the competition?
Flor: The truth of the matter is that participation in the competition was made as a mandatory course requirement. Students are required to engage in any form of global experience in order to graduate. The usual avenues for them to have such experience were prohibited because of the pandemic. I, as course adviser of Plant Inspection and Seminars, need to find other platforms that can help the students comply with such requirement. For the past 3 to 9 months, I have been requiring the participation in essay contests. However, I am aware that not all can write well. I am also aware that there are a lot of students who are very creative even when their chosen undergraduate program is technical in nature. When I found Huluku 2022 from an online search, I knew that this is one possible option for my creative students.
Q13: Were the themes of inclusion, diversity and authentic representation something you were familiar working with prior to the competition?
Flor: Yes. Inclusivity, diversity, and authentic representation are matters that have been emphasized by different institutions in our country. Those are included in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed to transform our world as promoted by the United Nations. Those are the current topics in a number of technical conferences we attend and we are supposed to include them in the discussion in the courses we handle.
We have promising future partnership with foreign industries who inculcate and practice those in their organization and have assured us that our students will get fair treatment if they will join their company.
Q14: Have you any plans to continue building these concepts into your teaching and projects? (Maybe next year’s comp!)
Flor: Yes! As mentioned in the answer to the previous question, the SDGs are supposed to be considered in our lectures. Our performance as a university is measured in terms of compliance with the appropriate SDGs.