Reach for the sky

We interviewed Tom Grimes, UNSW Aerospace Engineering student, Maker Games winner, avid sportsman and space enthusiast.

Tom Grimes

Tell us a bit about yourself Tom.

I’m now a fourth year Aerospace Engineering student at UNSW. I’m heavily involved in uni life and had a massive 2018. I competed in the World University Games in sailing, where we won gold! I took the Maker Games course, won a trip to LA and I began an executive position with the UNSW AIAA Rocketry team. It was a really busy year!

What’s been the most rewarding part of being involved in the Maker Games, the UNSW Rocketry team and balancing a successful sailing career? 

Being involved in different student experiences is very rewarding. It opens doors to different opportunities and teaches you lessons that you don’t get inside the classroom. I think the best thing for me is that I use each activity I am involved in as somewhat of a retreat from the other things, so I am always on my toes. Being involved in such a wide range of student experiences has taught me soft skills and hones my teamwork skills which I believe makes me much more appealing to employers.

You participated in the Maker Games in 2019 and won a trip to Los Angeles! What was the winning formula?

Our Maker Games team wasn't made up of high distinction students. We all had different technical backgrounds and approached situations very differently, but this gave us confidence that our solutions were well considered. In the Maker Games, each team is given two mentors, a mentor from the company submitting your challenge and an academic mentor. Both our mentors were very generous with their time and willing to help us with anything we were unsure about. Our mentors were a critical part of the success of the team, and we acted as one unit with a singular goal of creating the most viable solution for the challenge presented to us. Everyone in the group had an exceptional work ethic and a passion to create.

And what about the trip to LA? What were you favourite parts?

The Maker Games trip to LA was an incredible opportunity to gain insight into some of the new-age tech companies that occupy the silicon beach tech hub. Something that all these companies had in common was their innovative and lively culture which centered around the employee experience. For example, in many of these offices there were no defined hours to be at work, dogs were allowed in the office, there was free food and coffee and there were unconventional spaces for relaxing and working away from your desk. This culture was built on the independence and autonomy of the employees which inspired loyalty as well as a solid and sustainable work ethic. Plus, it was pretty cool to check out UCLA and Netflix HQ. 

Can you tell us about your involvement with the AIAA rocketry team at UNSW?

In 2018 AIAA UNSW set up a Rocketry Team to compete in the Australian Universities Rocketry Competition in 2019. As soon as I heard about this new student project, I jumped at the opportunity to be involved. My involvement with the team has been a very positive experience because of the nature of the project, but mostly because of the incredibly motivated and passionate people I have been fortunate enough to work alongside. Being involved with a student project is a great experience that I would highly recommend to every student who wants to get more out of their degree. 

How does competing at the World University Games in sailing compare to your studies here at UNSW?

The dynamic of a sailing team is very similar to the dynamic of an engineering team. It is extremely important to be prepared for every race, and make sure that everyone knows what role they have as well as their responsibilities before, during and after every race. This makes it very simple to communicate and function effectively as a team when the pressure is high. 

What’s driving you in 2019?

I’d thank all my coaches, mentors and friends for helping me so much, it was a busy year and without so much guidance and support I would not have been able to fit everything in. This year I will keep doing my best and will have to see what happens! 

If you want to get involved in the Maker Games 2019 for your chance to win an international trip, register now here.

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