Always passionate about heavy vehicles, Glenn Thomas originally had his heart set on becoming a diesel mechanic. Then he discovered his love of engineering, which he quickly discovered opened up the best of both worlds; indulging his passion and knack for design, and also allowing him to get his hands dirty at the same time.
We caught up with the busy 28-year-old PACCAR engineer to find out more.
How long have you been working at PACCAR and what is your specific role there?
I’ve been with PACCAR just over 3.5 years. I am currently managing the cooling system design and development + cost reduction team while also being the project manager for the recently released T410SAR.
What training/study did you have to do before getting the job?
I completed a four-year Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering at RMIT with Honours. Originally, I started off doing Mechatronic Engineering before switching to Mechanical in the second year as it provided a much broader area of learning which let me focus more on Automotive as well. As a part of that I did a six-month internship at Deutz AG in Germany in the R&D department.
In high school I partook in additional work experience with engineering and fabrication businesses to gain as much hands-on knowledge as I could before beginning tertiary education.
While completing my tertiary studies I worked as a mechanic which allowed me to gain a good overall understanding of the practical side of how different designs can affect the end product and the different ways that the automotive industry designs vehicles.
What’s the best part of the job at PACCAR?
There is always variety in the job with new challenges and changes to work through. Being a part of the graduate program has allowed me to rotate through positions giving good exposure and experience in a variety of different departments throughout PACCAR. By spending 12 months in each role you really get a chance to settle in and learn the job properly while working with more than just one area of the business.
We are often working on new model designs, testing and modification of trucks to improve performance, exploring new manufacturing techniques to cut costs and improve efficiency and ease of manufacturing/assembly. I am also constantly working with both local and overseas suppliers on different projects to do with almost every part of the trucks.
Out of work, we hear you are a 4 x 4 champ
I have been racing for about six years now as both a driver and navigator, my most significant highlights would have to be taking our first place in the 2018 Outback Challenge, as well as taking my car over to Western Australia to compete in the 2016 Ironman Adventure Challenge. I’ve also had several podium finishes within Victorian Short course winch challenge events over the last few years, and only just this weekend we finished in second place with only seconds between us and the winners of the event.
Can you adapt anything from off-roading into your role at PACCAR?
While the application and sizes are very different the engineering principals behind building a race car and a truck are still the same. Racing shows how many of the parts fatigue and fail as well as what it takes to make them survive in such extreme usage conditions which helps when it comes to designing truck parts that need to last millions of kilometres in what can be very tough conditions as well.
Any messages to others thinking of following you into engineering?
Do it! It’s a great career that is always interesting and has ongoing options for development. No matter what your interests are there is always a job that is a good fit. If you enjoy what you are doing it doesn’t really feel like work.