From self-employed residential and large scale commercial builder to architectural technology student, graduate Blair Wickham has seen many changes in his construction-based career.
A Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) Diploma in Architectural Technology student for the past two years, Blair has always held an interest in design.
“Being a builder allowed me to work on a variety of different types of buildings, from high-end multi-million dollar residential homes as well as large scale commercial jobs, through to small, architecturally-designed homes,” says Blair.
“My passion for design has always been there, but it wasn't until recently that I made the decision to take it further.”
Blair’s decision to study at SIT was an easy one as he has a young family and taking two years out of paid-employment was going to affect them financially.
“The minimal course fees and the ability to buy a house in Invercargill and study full time was a great bonus,” Blair says.
“Also the length of the course being two years rather than three also helped in getting into industry quickly and that's where the real learning starts.”
Blair says the course went over and above his initial expectations and he treated it more like a two year interview as his tutors were able to link him with industry contacts.
“The content was wide ranging and in most cases quite involved, the amount of knowledge or exposure was only limited to what you were willing to put in and also question tutors on,” he says.
Unsurprisingly, Blair found the design side of the course the most enjoyable as he was exposed to a wide range of skills including two new CAD programmes and was able to complete a set of plans for each project and programme.
“A field trip to Queenstown to study a variety of architectural forms was fascinating, as I was able to see what level of buildings Kiwis have designed and what the industry is capable of achieving here in New Zealand.”
Blair says the course will play a formative role in his new journey and development as an emerging designer.
“With the experience gained and the exposure to industry we have had through the course I'm excited to get into the real world and be involved in an exciting emerging design practice,” he says.
“The possibility of branching out on my own in the future is of obvious interest to me also.”