A job sampling beer and designing craft brewery systems may sound too good to be true, but for University of Waikato engineering graduate Matt Dromgool, this is his reality.
Matt is a development engineer for Waikato-based company Natural Brew Inc. His primary task is to work on the mechanical design and development of an automated pub-scale micro-brewery system, dubbed the Smartbrew.
Two existing prototypes of the Smartbrew are in use in breweries in Waitomo and Taupo. “I work with these existing clients and the prototypes to provide technical support and develop a better understanding of refinements and improvements required for the production model,” says Matt.
“A typical day involves traveling to sites, where I troubleshoot mechanical issues and sample beer in order to make sure the machine is producing a top quality product. When not on site I work from home on my latest project, a Smartbrew system for local brewery, Good George, which involves liaising with automation and electrical contractors to improve the design.”
Teaching to engineering
Matt initially studied a Bachelor of Teaching at Waikato and spent six years at secondary schools teaching technology and engineering, before returning to full-time study in the University of Waikato’s mechanical engineering programme.
He was offered the position with Natural Brew Inc. two months before finishing his final year of engineering at Waikato last year.
“The mechanical engineering programme set me up ideally for this position, as it included sufficient coverage of the materials and process engineering at the heart of the brewing process as well as the mechanical design and modelling required to develop a machine which automates tasks in a process environment.”
Matt also credits the work placements he completed during the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (BE(Hons)) as instrumental in building networks within the industry and gaining exposure to real world practice. The BE(Hons) includes 800 hours of work experience and provides assistance from a dedicated group of cooperative education staff to ensure placements are a good fit for both the student and the company.