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Hawke's Bay Sparkie Claims National Title

Hawke's Bay Sparkie Claims National Title

New Zealand’s Electrical Apprentice of the Year – Industrial Rob Stockley has always enjoyed electronics and building projects.

So when Rob and wife Liz moved to Hawke’s Bay to raise their two young daughters, he decided to turn a life-long interest into a burgeoning career and enrol in EIT’s pre-employment programme for the electrical trades.

“Going back to school was a challenging but necessary step towards becoming an electrician,” says the 41-year-old from Hastings. “Electricity is unforgiving and a solid grounding in the basics is essential.”

Studying for the Certificate in Electrical Trades, Rob says he was fortunate in having Grant Millar and Ray Lawrence amongst his tutors.

“Their passion for the electrical trade and their willingness to go the extra mile for struggling students is a credit to them and EIT. It was through my tutor Grant Millar that I was introduced to Fruit Handling Systems which led to my current job.”

Winning the ECANZ Challenge was “a huge confidence boost” for the former Air Force man, who outperformed four other finalists in automating a conveyor system in a simulated bottling plant.

Shortly after claiming the title, Rob flew to the USA where he is commissioning a new apple packhouse in New York State.

“Fruit Handling Systems has supplied several machines to this job including a robotic bin dumper, an in-feed conveyor and treatment system and a row of bin fillers.”

Making all these machines work together and integrating them with other packhouse plant is like “a giant jigsaw puzzle”.

Rob says his employers provide him with opportunities to be involved in the design, manufacturing and commissioning of a range of industrial machines.

“We specialise in materials-handling equipment installed in fruit packhouses. I enjoy figuring things out and making them work, so it’s fulfilling to see a new concept from paper through to the customer’s factory.”

Asked about his future direction, Rob quotes Albert Einstein – “once you stop learning, you start dying.”

He plans to continue in the electrical field, learning for as long as he can.

“I enjoy teaching and expect at some stage I will follow in the footsteps of my tutors Grant and Ray.”

As for opportunities available to qualified electricians, Rob quips: “The world needs electricity like the world needs haircuts. There will always be opportunities for qualified tradespeople (and hairdressers) wherever they find themselves.”


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