Mal­colm Oldis

Alpine Observer - - People Around Town -

What is your job?

In­dus­trial elec­tron­ics. I do lots of things re­ally. I have in­vented and de­signed a so­lar-pow­ered sky­light. It’s a big flat light con­nected to a so­lar panel. It looks just like a sky­light, but it doesn’t have all the prob­lems that real sky­lights have. No struc­tural is­sues, no heat loss, no leak­age. It con­nects to a con­ven­tional so­lar panel on the roof. If it’s not con­nected to the grid, it’s like a sky­light and only works dur­ing the day, but if it is con­nected you can use it like an or­di­nary light. My ba­sic trade is as an elec­tri­cian, but I’ve done a lot of ex­otic stuff like mak­ing sil­i­con chips and semi­con­duc­tor man­u­fac­tur­ing. At the mo­ment I’m work­ing at How­man’s Gap on their sewage con­trol sys­tem, help­ing them man­age their in­com­ing and out­go­ing wa­ter.

Is it some­thing you al­ways wanted to do?

Yes. I grew up in Rosanna and was un­cer­e­moni- ously dumped from school be­cause I couldn’t do maths. I got an elec­tri­cal ap­pren­tice­ship and was elec­tri­cal ap­pren­tice of the year for three years, and ap­pren­tice of the year in all trades at Pre­ston Tech­ni­cal Col­lege in 1977. I was given a schol­ar­ship from the Vic­to­rian Em­ploy­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion. I got a job and travel for two years to South Africa. I was of­fered some amaz­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties there. One was a main­te­nance tech­ni­cian in a semi­con­duc­tor man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Pre­to­ria. That was a dream job be­cause the mi­cro­pro­ces­sor had just been in­vented and I was learn­ing about pro­gram­ming for in­dus­trial ap­pli­ca­tions. I couldn’t be­lieve it. I was there for six years, but came back be­cause I had a moral obli­ga­tion to share the ex­per­tise. That sort of job didn’t ex­ist in Aus­tralia but I got a job do­ing a sim­i­lar sort of thing. For about six years I worked for an en­tre­pre­neur de­sign­ing an­i­mated LED for ad­ver­tis­ing sig­nage and poker machines and sim­i­lar things. I also worked mak­ing so­lar con­cen­tra­tors for a cou­ple of years.

How do you come to be in the Val­ley?

My fam­ily are re­ally out­door peo­ple. We love ski­ing and our two daugh­ters got in­vited to join the Vic­to­rian Ju­nior De­vel­op­ment Squad in cross-coun­try ski­ing. My wife was fed up with her job so here we are. Here, I am mak­ing my so­lar sky­lights and do­ing gen­eral elec­tri­cal work and the oc­ca­sional odd job. We love the friend­li­ness and the sense of com­mu­nity here.

What do you love about the job?

The chal­lenge I guess. I’m al­ways in­spired by high-tech stuff. I love to learn new things and I love to sharpen my skills.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like out­doorsy things. I used to sail a lot. We are go­ing to sail the Gipp­s­land Lakes soon get­ting ready for the Whit­sun­days next year. I ski a bit. I went in the Birkie this year – it nearly killed me. My wife and I helped to set up the Mt Beauty Parkrun and we run in it reg­u­larly.

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