Award winner David engineers a bright future for himself

03 December 2018

It’s no surprise that ATNZ apprentice David Lewis chose engineering as his trade. The 22 year-old Rotorua engineering apprentice admits he’s always been a person who enjoys pulling things apart to learn how they work.

David originally intended to go to University to study mechatronics, but a change in the NCEA credit system and advice from his school metalwork teacher saw him embark on a different path, to an engineering apprenticeship.

“My metalwork teacher thought I’d be better in a trade and he was right. He called up Competenz and two days’ later I had an interview, and within a week I started at Damar Industries.”

David will finish his four-year ATNZ apprenticeship in March 2019 and plans to continue studying toward a Level 6 diploma in mechanical engineering and electrical. “I’d like to be an instrument technician and work with a wide range of engineering instruments. These are essential pieces of machinery that keep a manufacturing plant running and you need an in-depth knowledge of their workings.”

Damar Industries is the largest compliant manufacturer of dangerous goods, including coatings, chemicals and aerosols in New Zealand. David is a key part of the company’s engineering support team and according to chairman Scott Thomson, plays a critical role in developing solutions on site.

“It’s a complex environment that requires a high standard of compliance and David is a highly dependable, honest and diligent employee. His colleagues agree that he has a bright future ahead of him.”

Missing out on going to university and opting to do an apprenticeship has been “definitely the best option” for David.

“University is not the only way to go about your future. If you’re interested in engineering, there are other ways to get to the same level, like an apprenticeship and further workplace training. 

“I’ve learned a lot of things in my apprenticeship training that my friends who are doing engineering degrees haven’t even heard of. Practical experience counts for a lot. It gives you a deeper understanding of what you can do with certain equipment, inner workings of parts and you can use that knowledge when designing new equipment.” 

Recently David won the coveted Stuart Tolhurst Memorial Award, an award that remembers the application engineer and New Zealand expert in rolling element bearing design and application.

The award was presented at the National Maintenance Engineering Conference in Rotorua on 14 November.

David says winning the award has confirmed to him he’s “doing the right thing”. 

“I’m extremely stoked to have won. It has shown me that I’m good at what I do and the people I work with are happy with my work. I really enjoy working at Damar Industries as I like the variety of tasks and equipment – it’s never repetitive. Your mind is constantly kept active and challenged with coming up with new ideas or finding a solution to a problem. I can’t wait for the next phase of my career.”