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A coffee with Thomas Simmons, Junior Design Technician

Hello Thomas. You’ve been with the Fleetwood Design team for about 8 months now and you’re always pretty busy. What does a ‘typical’ day look like for you?

A typical day for myself involves a lot of CAD drawing! These drawings can range from rough concept ideas, to the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how something is actually going to be constructedIn between there’s lots and lots of thinking – both by myself and in meetings with other industry professionals – to explore the best options to deliver a job and make it all happen.

What qualities are important as a Design Technician?

Patience, attention to detail, and being able to visualise something before it happens are extremely important. I’m certainly not saying I have mastered these yet! But I do know that when you have all of these qualities working coherently, a project can feel like it’s already done before you’ve even started.

 How do you measure success? What does a ‘job well done’ look like?

Similar to the previous question, success for me is when a job almost feels like it’s done before I’ve started. A few times now, I’ve come across projects where I’ve sat down and really thought about what needs to be done and how I’m going to do it. As a result, you get to the end of a project without feeling like you’ve burnt yourself out, yet when you look back at everything, it’s all there and it’s all correct. That’s a job well done in my eyes.

 What’s the best part of your job?

Solving problems! It’s something I’d always wanted to do, but never really had the opportunity to do until I started working with Fleetwood. Working alongside Mark Jol (Fleetwood Senior Design Technician) is great, because he seems to have a solution for everything, I get to see and learn first-hand how to solve problems and apply it to the jobs I work on. As Mark always says: “No problems here, just a long list of solutions.” 

 What are some of the biggest challenges?

Definitely not being able to see something before it’s actually created. I think this applies to every aspect of this industry. In terms of the drawings I output, I need to be able to accurately envisage how something will work (or won’t work) before I actually start drawing it. Otherwise it could mean I have to start the drawing all over again from scratch. It can also be extremely challenging to anticipate every possible issue when you’re looking at the overall picture and the nitty gritty of a structure’s design at the same time.

Thomas enjoying a mountain bike ride

What’s been your most memorable moment with Fleetwood so far?

I’d say our recent project at Fyansford, near Geelong. It involved delivering an amenities block, a shelter, and a playground. Fyansford was the first time I had the opportunity to look at a project from an overall broader aspect, as well as looking at all the detail with a magnifying glass. I was able to create 3D visualisations for each element, in addition to a detailed set of drawings for engineering purposes. It was exciting, a lot of fun.

You’ve recently become Fleetwood’s designated ‘drone pilot’, how did that all come about?

The team wanted to get aerial footage of some of the previous bridges we’d installed, from a bird’s eye view. I’d had previous experience flying my dad’s drone (I fly it far more than he has!), so I put my hand up to give filming the bridges a crack. That went pretty well and I’m now filming all aerial footage for Fleetwood Urban using a DJI Mavic Air 2 drone.

 How do you spend your time when you’re not at work?

I love Downhill (DH) mountain bike riding, which is exactly how it sounds… you ride down hills! Sydney has a lack of big hills so most of my riding is done in locations like Thredbo, Wollongong, Lithgow and Awaba. But by far the best riding I’ve come across is Maydena in Tasmania. That was a week away with the boys that I won’t be soon forgetting. I currently own two bikes. A Commencal Furious (my DH bike) and a Norco Range (my Enduro bike). The difference being the Enduro bike is much better for pedalling back to the top of a hill when you haven’t got a lift!

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