What drew you to engineering? Did you know you wanted to go into engineering from when you were young or did you find it later?
My dad is a mechanic so I grew up around motors, gearboxes, boats and pretty much everything in bits. I’ve always thought ‘what does that bit do, where does that bit go?’ I also had access to heaps of tools so I always tried to fix things and just muck around. My dad was awesome, I don’t know how he put up with all my questions. So I guess I grew up with that sort of Kiwi mentality of trying to fix stuff. Throughout school, I enjoyed physics and science which which steered me toward the engineering field. My mum’s an electrical engineer and I was quite lucky to work in various engineering fields after school at her work to help me decide which discipline of engineering I would enjoy the most.
What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on or are currently working on?
I recently developed an innovative grille with the VYNCO TM engineering team, this was for up-market homes where you don’t want to see a plastic grille in the ceiling, just the negative space where the air is extracted. It took quite a while to find the best solution and was on and off over a few months as prototype parts were produced, installed, tested, and reviewed. It was a really different project for me because I haven’t done much with plaster before. We had to find a material that plaster would adhere to well and wouldn’t crack whilst also being able to be shaped to suit various geometry options for the customer. After reviewing existing grilles and talking to various tradesmen it was apparent that nothing on the market at the time worked very well as they were all installed with a metal bezel that required a mound of plaster to conceal which was prone to cracking around the edge, wood was also investigated but this could swell and crack the plaster if exposed to moisture in bathrooms. So we thought, what if we make it out of moulded plaster then plaster will stick to it? So we had a few moulded and tested and they worked really well.
What aspects of mechanical engineering do you like the most?
I enjoy hands on work but I also really like designing innovative products and equipment. Where I’m currently seconded, we’ve got a workshop out the back so I really enjoy modelling assemblies up and watching it all come together. I like getting a tangible output from my work and being able to look at it, that’s really rewarding. Making it myself, that’s the ultimate, but it’s still awesome to be able to watch someone else build my designs.
What makes working at Caliber different from other engineering companies?
The main thing is that a company’s called us in because they have heaps of work on, so we move into a busy team and work with them. The hardest part is trying to get up to speed because you need to hit the ground running … get up to speed on the design work and their systems. So there’s that initial period which is obviously really different to other engineering jobs. The cool thing is that you’re always working on something different, being able to jump between drastically different projects and constantly learning new skills at the same time.
What does an average day at Caliber look like?
You’ve got the start period where you’re moving in and rapidly getting up to speed but once you’re part of their team you fit in and you’re doing the same work they are as a member of their team but at the same time you’re still representing Caliber. There’s no down time because you’re representing Caliber every single day. The average day, it’s always different.
What’s a dream job you’d like to work on in the future?
I reckon supercars would be awesome. And not making the same thing over and over again, but try and completely revolutionise it every time. The problem is, I’d want to do everything.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I rebuilt the gearbox in my motorbike awhile back which was cool, took a while though – mainly because of having kids! So it was mainly at night or in the morning before work but I guess that’s what made it enjoyable too as it gave me time to take in some of the real clever design work they had done to reduce weight etc. I also enjoy mountain biking. I’ve got a three-year-old daughter so that’s a real cool hobby to have and to do with her as well. I try and gamble how far we go if shes on her bike and I’m like nah, we’ll go back this way now so I don’t have to walk too far carrying her bike!