Daniel Butler took his childhood love of Lego, aeroplane models and puzzles and turned it into a career. He’s now a hydrodynamicist working on the Navy’s $90 billion future submarine and frigate programs with the Department of Defence Science and Technology.
Daniel helps design experimental methods and equipment, as well as running computer simulations to analyse the water flow around new submarines and ships. While spending most of his time in DST’s Melbourne office, he also travels regularly to the Australian Maritime College in Launceston to carry out experiments. He says there is a growing demand for STEM skills (particularly engineering skills) in the defence industry, which means a massive opportunity. “There is a skills gap and that means well-paying jobs,” he says.
Daniel recommends giving engineering a go to see if you might enjoy it. That could mean doing a free university course online or taking a gap year to do work experience, such as the one offered by the Australian Defence Force.
Daniel says he has always been passionate about practical engineering and when he left high school he went into an apprenticeship as a maintenance fitter at a Weet-Bix factory. He took night classes at TAFE to earn an engineering diploma, which meant he got to work on interesting projects designing new factory equipment. While he admits he wanted more of a mental challenge, prompting him to go on to university, Daniel tips his hat to TAFE as a way to get practical skills and broad experience that will be useful for your career.
“For some reason these days people want to go straight to university but there are many useful courses available at TAFE to consider, too,” he says.
“Even if you are definitely planning on going to uni, doing a practical course at TAFE – such as drafting – could help you secure good part-time work in the industry while studying.” – Claire Harris
Find out more: bit.ly/DSTCareers
Daniel’s career pathway
>> Maintenance fitter and draftsman
>> Engineering Diploma, TAFE (incomplete)
>> Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical and Aerospace) (Hons), University of Queensland
>> Hydrodynamics Researcher, DST
This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Engineering 2019.
Hot Career Tip: Check out the Naval Shipbuilding Plan
“It’s pretty big right now and will continue to be for the rest of my, and your, careers,” says Daniel. “It will employ more than 15,000 personnel in the naval shipbuilding enterprise through a number of continuous-build programs of submarines, frigates, patrol boats and others. There are going to be a lot of great jobs in that, not just for naval architects, but mechanical, electrical and material engineers, as well as countless trade roles and many others.”
Find out more here.
Did you know?
Defence Science and Technology (DST) – part of Australia’s Department of Defence – is one of Australia’s largest employers of scientists and engineers, with about 2300 staff.
Author: STEM Contributor
This article was written by a STEM Contributor for Careers with STEM. To learn more, please visit our contact page.