Josh's energy and experience sparks students' enthusiasm and success
Prior to teaching at TAFE Queensland, Electrotechnology Leading Vocational Teacher Josh Rottenberry had a varied and well-travelled career as an electrician, having worked in London through to Melbourne, the Gold Coast, and in Brisbane, which makes for many interesting and inspiring stories (and knowledge) he shares regularly with his students.
“Yes, despite working on a construction site that overlooked London’s Tower Bridge, and, having the contract for assembling the museum lighting for Damien Hirst’s ‘For the Love of God’ diamond skull sculpture – the most expensive artwork ever – my most favourite place to work was actually an abattoir!” Josh professed.
“It (the abattoir) was a really fascinating place, both from an electrical and a process perspective. In contrast – electrotechnology can take you to some really beautiful places too – I’ve worked on the top floor of high-rises and the views are absolutely amazing,” he said.
In 2000 Josh himself trained as an apprentice at TAFE Queensland, and subsequently worked as an electrician until 2016, servicing houses, apartment blocks, schools, high-rises and factories.
“I had never planned to become an electrician but kind of fell into it when I deferred from my university course after I finished school. The first time that I wired up a light and it turned on, I thought this was absolutely amazing and I wanted to learn more,” he explained.
“Eventually though, after a really satisfying career as an electrician, in 2016 I decided I should start looking to do something a little less demanding on my body. I had always enjoyed teaching and mentoring my apprentices on the job, and I had always liked the theoretical side of the electrical content, so teaching was an easy choice to make.”
“Watching a student have that ‘lightbulb’ moment; seeing students change over a 4-year qualification period and helping them mature into confident men and women are the most rewarding parts of my job.”
“There’s a lot of maths and calculations combined with the electrical theory that electricians have to do, and it can be really tough. I especially enjoy teaching the elements that have several tricky concepts involved and a few calculations thrown in there too. I love the challenge of trying to understand these sorts of problems, and then breaking them down into smaller parts to help my students understand,” Josh said.
And he’s clearly very good at this too. Josh has been nominated for numerous TAFE Queensland teaching awards and is continuously identified (by name) by apprentices via Student Feedback Surveys as the most enjoyable part of, and most positive influence on, their TAFE Queensland training.
“We don’t cut any corners here at TAFE. Like myself, many of the other teachers here are proud to say that we were ‘TAFE trained’ when we did our apprenticeships, and that means we were taught to do things properly,” Josh offered.
Not surprisingly, Josh is not one to rest on his laurels either; having completed a teaching degree last year, he enjoyed it so much, he’s since commenced a mathematics degree.
“I have no idea where it will take me in the long run, but I’ve found that it’s really helping my teaching even more because we do so much maths in electrotechnology.”
As for advice to those apprentices in the early stages of their training, or those needing an extra bit of motivation, Josh said it’s all about putting in the work.
“We can’t all be the smartest, or fastest or best at something, but there is really no limit to how hard you can try. With enough perseverance you can succeed at just about anything, in the classroom and on the job,” Josh advised.
Outside of the classrooms (TAFE Queensland’s and his university’s), Josh is not left with a lot of spare time, however he enjoys spending it with his wife, and travelling when they can.