From maths to modelling: Teacher surprises his students

31/03/15

Pietro Boselli
Image caption Pietro Boselli

Twenty-six-year-old maths lecturer and PhD student Pietro Boselli describes himself as 'nerdy', but the internet would beg to differ.

Pictures of him have gone viral after his students posted them online, when they found out about his other job.

As well as teaching at University College London (UCL), he's also on the books of agency Models1.

He tells Newsbeat his students sometimes lose focus, and keep taking sneaky snaps when he's not looking.

Arief's Facebook post

When Arief Azil posted a picture of his teacher on Facebook, he wasn't expecting it would take off the way it did.

Arief and his friends were in a lecture when they thought; "this guy's quite good looking," so they looked him up.

That was back in January, but interest has grown since then: "I got 100 likes at that time and I didn't know it was going to viral like this."

Arief told Newsbeat Boselli teaches a maths course called 'modelling analysis' - which fits, somehow.

Pietro is surprised by the reaction.

"I got really bombarded by messages, emails, you know, everyone, all of my friends, everyone I've ever known suddenly sending my snapshots or pictures... I didn't really know what to make of it because I didn't feel like I'd achieved anything that was worthy of such a big thing."

Pietro specialises in engineering - designing turbines and writing computer programmes.

Originally from Italy, Pietro's been in London for eight years now, and has been teaching maths at UCL for the last five.

He was scouted for modelling at the age of six, so he's pretty used to seeing himself on billboards and in magazines, but says it's never had this much attention.

"It's always been like that for me, sort of a side job."

Model teacher

Students have even been turning up to his lectures from other departments.

Arief told Newsbeat there are often 10 to 15 girls he doesn't recognise in class. Or maybe it's Pietro's maths skills they've come to admire.

"He's a really really good teacher to be honest."

Pietro certainly doesn't get it.

"It's strange because obviously it's just my daily life, I don't see anything special in it, but apparently it is of interest to people on the internet."

Arief Azil
Image caption Arief Azil posted a picture of his teacher on Facebook

He wouldn't be drawn on which profession he preferred: "It would be unfair for me to say I prefer one or the other. Obviously most of my time and effort I dedicate to my studies, to my engineering."

But he did say it was strange being part of two completely different environments.

"That's what I like the most about it. At one moment I'm hanging out with my colleagues in my research office, and the day after, maybe on a modelling job, meeting designers or people in fashion. "

He enjoys how baffled his colleagues on both sides are.

"People in fashion see my engineering work as something so remote and advanced and at the same time my colleagues in engineering think 'it's so cool you do modelling.'"

Ideas and ambitions

Pietro says he thought he'd captured people's imagination because the two jobs are so different. Some of his model friends "don't even know what a PHD is, that's how far away the two different worlds are."

He sometimes has to work a bit harder to convince his students he's the real deal in engineering too.

"They're a bit set back because obviously I've a younger appearance... So I need to sort of convince them that I'm good at what I'm doing and I need to put in that extra effort."

So would he ever give up one profession to concentrate on the other? He doesn't see why he should.

"Obviously modelling is probably not as long-term as engineering would be - for obvious reasons - but you know, whilst I have it I don't see why I should give it up."

So what's next for Pietro?

"I have many many ideas and many ambitions and I'm just trying to put everything together."

He'd like to start his own engineering firm.

"What I see is starting up something that actually produces something, that creates something, I like the idea of leaving something behind. And that's why I like engineering so much because you use science, you use maths, and physics, to create something that actually works."

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