Vice President of Design & Engineering at KARIBU Solar Power
I was born/grew up in: Port Perry, Ontario, Canada
I now live in: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
I completed my training/education at: I completed my high school at Port Perry High School, completed my Undergraduate degree in Environmental Engineering at the University of Guelph and attended a company accelerator called "Fledge" in Seattle, Washington.
Describe what you do at work.
My brother and I run a company that is based in Africa, where he lives right now. Every few days I call him to discuss what work needs to be done. I go to my office in Oshawa and use my laptop to do design work, enter online competitions and continue learning how to manufacture. I use my laptop to run design software that lets me turn my ideas into 2D images, which I then make into 3D objects.
I use the problem-solving skills that I learned in school to determine which solutions are best for the environment. Every few days I use Skype to speak with my manufacturers to keep updated with product development and have even used a translator to help speak with engineers that live in China.
I use my engineering and technology skills to develop concepts, and once I have ideas, I use my math skills to properly use my software. I work in a shared space where everyone can freely speak with each other throughout the day. If I have a question I can always ask someone for help, kind of like a classroom. When I start a design or make an important decision I always begin the process the same way. First, I state what the problem is. Once I know and understand the problem well, I can begin to look at ways to solve it.
I try to keep things simple. If I have trouble explaining a straightforward idea to someone else, then it might already be too complicated. I always try to create designs using as few parts as possible while still solving the problem. Most of my time is spent networking with others and sharing ideas. I always learn something from every new conversation and interaction.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
The work that I do helps to improve the quality of life for those who make $1-2 a day. By switching their lighting from a dirty kerosene lamp to a clean solar lamp, children can now study after dark without breathing in smoke. The solar system I have designed will help create jobs in developing countries, help children pursue their education and help the environment by reducing greenhouse gases emissions.
What motivates you in your career?
The reason I have chosen my career is because I believe in what I am doing. I get excited about changing the world and providing opportunities for people across the world that do not have the same choices that I do here in Canada. If I ever get discouraged while doing my work, I am reminded that so many people are willing to help answer my questions and steer me in the right direction. My favourite part of my career is taking my thoughts and transforming them into ideas that help to solve issues of any size.
Technology is constantly getting better and better, making it easier and easier to explore new ideas and even test ideas in a short amount of time using computer simulations. This year I will be travelling to Africa to begin selling my solar products and starting a pilot study. I am excited to learn about other people's culture from across the world, while learning how to run a business.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
The best way to describe my path is that I fell into this career. Having an understanding of how to create a 3D prototype set me apart from others, allowing me to help start this business. Essentially, my brother was doing volunteer work in Africa and came up with a micro-franchising idea. After explaining it to me, I had the resources at my University to follow through with it. I did not set out with this career in mind, in fact I had a much different idea of what I thought I would be doing at this point in my life such as working for a large Engineering firm. As reality set in I realized that it would be difficult to ever get this opportunity again and decided to go for it.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I enjoy playing Ultimate Frisbee with friends, skateboarding, snowboarding, playing volleyball and being outdoors as much as possible. I also enjoy playing guitar and watching movies with my friends.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Define success by doing what you enjoy. It's easy to get discouraged when applying for a new career, but don't be afraid to reach out and let others know if you are excited and passionate about a new idea, you may be surprised at their willingness to help out.