Team Interviews: Dokus Soetemans
--Dokus Soetemans: Production manager/ Head Mechanics--
Dokus Soetemans is in his final year ofhis Master of Electromechanical Engineering Technology and is the Production Manager and Head Mechanics of the Solar Team
Where does your motivation come from to take part in the Punch Powertrain Solar Team?
“My motivation is in line with the reason why I chose engineering technology as a study. In high school I always had an interest in exact sciences, and especially mathematics. However, I did not only wish to master the theory behind it, but also wanted a healthy dose of practical knowledge. I was already able to do this by studying Engineering Technology as we have a practical project each year that is part of our course. When the Solar Team was presented during a class, this seemd the ultimate practical experience for me to finish my studies with. I did an application specifically for this function, as I like to have the total view on a project.”
What does a production manager do?
“As a production manager I have the final responsibility for everything regarding the body of the car. At the start I closely work together with our aerodynamics department to see if their design is feasible, regarding the outer layer but also the internal structure. Afterwards we see if it is possible to put the pieces into the car structure. In the beginning of the project, I spent most of my time studying different materials and discussing contracts with different companies if they were able to deliver us these materials or would be able to offer us a location to create certain parts. This last thing is quite important since we only have a limited space on our own site. Therefore we often have to go to different companies to construct certain parts.”
And what do you d as Head Mechanics?
“At the start of the project it was clear that our project manager would not be able to keep an eye on all different departments by himself. Therefore we decided to create three functions that would support him and make him able to react quicker in case of problems. I automatically go into the function of Head Mechanics since, as production manager, I was already keeping track of most mechanical departments. If there is a problem regarding anything mechanic, I am the first person they come to. Afterwards I will brief the project manager and we will look for an appropriate solution. Afterwards, it is also my job to follow this up.”
What is the most important thing that you get from this project?
“The most important thing that I get from this project is a huge amount of practical knowledge. This is something you don’t learn in university. Sometimes you also discover a large gap between the practical and theoretical knowledge in real life. When you draw something, it might fit perfectly. However, the moment you start constructing it, problems arise. Apart from this, you also learn how to run a business. I see Solar Team as a small non-profit organisation in which you are responsible for the positive outcome. This can go from keeping the cashflow positive to meeting a deadline. I also have a lot of contact with different companies, which offer a good network to start from the moment I start applying for jobs.”