Despite being the son of an aerospace engineer when he discovered the adventure of forming a team to design, test, make and race miniature F1 cars it led him to an appreciation of graphic design and visual communication.

Tim’s entry to F1inSchools was quite daunting. The student who invited him was Alistair Smith who led his team to second place at the World Finals. He looked to Tim to bolster their team for a second tilt at the big prize, however, Trinity Christian School decided that teams would only be made up of students from the same grade and Tim was a year behind Alistair.

Thus, Tim was tasked with the considerable responsibility of forming a second team. By the time he took over as the school’s F1inSchools team captain, Alistair had again competed against the best of the best from around the world and scored back to back second places.

For Tim, the main attraction of the competition was the opportunity for creativity.

“It was the F1inSchools program that really ignited my passion for design. In hindsight, I definitely had a curiosity and interest in design but never explicitly recognised it. However, F1inSchools provided me with exposure to design principles and industry standard programs that I still use today.”

“For the 18 months that I was involved in F1inSchools it was not uncommon to find me in the computer lab working and experimenting with design programs before and after school and during most lunches. I loved the challenge of learning the ‘tools’ and finding better ways to communicate.”

Tim looks back to a challenge he faced as a young boy which initially ignited the spark for visual communication,

“As a child I had great difficulty with written language, however I was extremely blessed to attend a specialist literacy program in Seattle when I was in grade one that provided me with the skills I needed to overcome my initial difficulties. These early difficulties forced me to concentrate on language and how we communicate. I believe this has been paramount to my success in the field of design.”

He said the REA program, which involves thousands of teams across the nation each year and tens of thousands of students, provided an invaluable training ground,

“The competition taught us how to sell an idea, to communicate technical information in a succinct way and how to represent ourselves in a professional and consistent manner across multiple mediums. Looking back it was staggering the quality of work that we as year 9 and 10 students were producing. It was great to be awarded the ‘Outstanding Industry Collaboration Award” at the National Championships.”

It also helped him develop ‘soft skills’ such as taking responsibility,

“I was incredibly driven and wanted to excel in the competition, however, whenever you’re working in a team each member has a different investment in the project. There can be a difference in expectations and the effort that is put in by each member. I learnt a lot of patience and I challenged myself to step up and take up the slack when necessary rather than complaining.”

Tim said his role as the design and marketing member of the team was very significant,

“The reality is that engineers need to sell their ideas to market. If they don’t communicate information clearly and lack a professional appearance they are going to struggle to engage investors and end users. As the engineering industry becomes more competitive and saturated it will be communication and branding that will separate the successful businesses.”

“It played a critical role even though it was more behind the scenes. Through branding and marketing we were able to secure sponsorship that allowed us to compete at the state and national competition. Furthermore, it demonstrated that we had considered all aspects of the competition. It unified us and tied everything together — creating an engaging experience for the judges when they interacted with us.”

F1inSchools confirmed for Tim what his future career path would be and he stepped straight into a design degree.

“I had a huge advantage going into uni’ because the programs I used in the competition were the same tools the universities teach. Thus, in my first two years I spent more time concentrating on principles and theories because I already had a deep understanding of the programs. Having the time to concentrate on higher level thinking really reflected in my grades. I achieved a perfect grade point average of 7 and received the Chancellor’s Commendation, Best Graduating Undergraduate in the Faculty of Arts and Design, and most recently the Design Institute of Australia Graduate of the Year for Communication Design in NSW/ACT. I was also a finalist in the national competition.”

Tim entered the work force and joined one of Canberra’s leading design agencies, Coordinate,

“They are arguably one of the best design studios in Canberra and notoriously difficult to get into, but timing worked out perfectly and they had a position open up when I started looking for part-time work. This was just after I had finished a project with Garry Emery and Robert Thorne on new signage for Parliament House’s Carpark.”

He was in his element, “I just loved their company character and design philosophy.”

The next phase in Tim’s life was not so upbeat for he was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease.

“It took me out of work for close to a year. I am now on a monthly infusion treatment that has brought me into a chemically induced remission.”

Refusing to let the illness keep him down, Tim made an effort to get back into design,

“When I got sick it really forced me to think about my aspirations and priorities and I sought out a position with Coordinate’s equity partner Swell Design Group. I had done some work with them while I worked for Coordinate. Swell is incredibly understanding and I am looking forward to continuing to develop my skills under their mentorship and guidance. At this stage I am a jack of all trades. I work on branding, digital design, signage and web development. I just love learning new skills and learning different ways to communicate.”

Looking ahead, Tim hopes to take his design career to another level,

“My approach to life and design has been fundamentally changed by the struggles with my health that I continue to have. In five years time I hope to continue to practice balance in my life. I want to continue to develop my skills at Swell and grow into a senior position at the company. I would really love to mentor and teach others. This a passion of my mine.”