June 6th, 2013

Case Study: Building a bridge to a better future

Gareth Owston-Doyle always knew that he was going to have a creative hands-on career, but little did he know that the Newmarket Viaduct in Auckland was going to kick-start his engineering apprenticeship.  

At school Gareth did all the technical courses on offer “I took woodwork, metalwork and electronics.  I was not really an academic at school and I took any subject that didn’t include writing – even cooking!”

Gareth decided that he would follow in his father’s footsteps and take up plumbing.  During his last year at high school he completed a Gateway course for plumbing which included working 1-2 days a week.  When he had completed his schooling, he turned his hand to building and worked with his grandfather to build a house. Gareth then started labouring for a small engineering company in Warkworth which was contracted to the bridge-works on the Newmarket Viaduct development in Auckland.

This was just one of the amazing opportunities that began to shape Gareth’s career.  After working for 8 months as a labourer, he was approached by 2 companies both offering him the opportunity to do an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering. Gareth had shown his ability to work hard and use his range of skills developed through school and work experience.

He eventually chose to do his apprenticeship with Fulton Hogan.  He decided that the company would be able to offer a wide variety of work opportunities – he also was going to have one of the best bosses to work for. His apprenticeship was managed by Industry Training Organisation, Competenz.

In total Gareth worked on the Newmarket viaduct for nearly 4 years.  As an apprentice he got to experience a lot of different aspects of mechanical engineering and enjoyed being part of a big project and seeing it through from the start. “I did pretty much everything from stressing, truss, electrical testing and tagging, repairing diesel maintenance and servicing. Pretty much everything on-site I got to do.”

The most enjoyable part of his apprenticeship was helping the engineers to solve problems.  By working alongside more experienced staff, he was able to offer design ideas then make and implement those designs.  Not all of the designs worked, but Gareth enjoyed being part of the team and being included in the development of solutions. “I’m a lot younger but they still let me have a go. There was none of the ‘he’s a young guy and doesn’t know his stuff’.”

Gareth completed his Competenz Level 4 Mechanical Engineering qualification in February 2013 and he has stayed with Fulton Hogan as a welder based at Ranui.  He is keen to continue to learn a wider range of skills, develop his welding and progress up to a foreman or leading hand.

Gareth’s plans for the future involve international work on big projects that are ‘firsts’ – just like the Newmarket Viaduct. We wish him all the best.