People of MECHA: Dr Stephen Kavermann

Outside of your career, what do you enjoy doing in your free time? 

Going on adventures with my family, cycling, surfing, fixing things, thinking/reading/blogging, playing and inventing board games. No I don’t have heaps of free time, I just do very little of these things at the moment unfortunately!

What have your experiences been like working in the industry and how did it differ from what you learnt in University?

I’ve loved working in product and process development as a mechanical engineer. Following projects through from initial stages to seeing 1,000,000+ pieces sold is pretty awesome. There has been a lot of learning on the job, so much of the specific theory learnt in university has been squeezed out of my head by new, more job specific, knowledge. However, having a good foundation in physics, maths and design does help! Especially when you need to make fast decisions based only your gut feel or ‘back of the envelope’ calculations. Another general observation is that generally things are more fluid in industry than the structure and theory of University.


Do you have any advice for anyone just starting out in their professional careers?

Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. You won’t always feel that you have the skills or confidence required for a job, but those are the best opportunities for learning and growth. So take those uncomfortable opportunities when they arise, but hand in hand with this advice is: don’t be afraid of asking for help and seeking guidance from those with more experience! People are usually more than happy to share their expertise.


What have been your biggest challenges, as both an engineer at FPH and a lecturer at the University? 

The biggest challenges have generally involved bringing together multi-stranded design projects. It can be very difficult to hold and assess all the different requirements of a project in your head at once. This is where good documentation and reviewing your design with team members/clients/suppliers is vital. Which also leads to: communicating complicated engineering details in a fast-paced environment is also challenging! I’m just starting out here as a lecturer, but so far it looks like setting assessments will be a big challenge.


Favourite or proudest moment in your life

I have to say that my marriage and the development of my two kids (3 and 1 yrs old) bring me a huge amount of satisfaction, so they beat any career accomplishments.

Best lockdown hack

Music, crank it. I’ve loved jamming this album about NZ’s native birds. Gives a feeling of being out and free like a bird without having to leave the house ! Extra helpful with young kids around. Bonus tip: play Kākā in the morning for a confidence boost and Kererū to set the mood for mealtime.