Crawley-based Vent-Axia has been working with Surrey Choices, an organisation that helps disabled people and those with support needs, to provide work experience for 19-year-old Gabriel Hogan.
Gabriel is taking part in Surrey Choices’ work-based alternative education programme. Surrey Choices therefore approached the UK’s market-leading ventilation manufacturer to see if Vent-Axia could offer Gabriel a work placement, as he is fascinated by hand dryers and wanted to be able to design a new hand dryer that was quiet but dried your hands in 10 seconds.
Vent-Axia was happy to help and Gabriel has been attending a work experience placement at the company to gain vital experience, learn more about the product design process and to design his own hand dryer.
Gabriel is autistic, has ADHD and learning difficulties and faced challenges at mainstream college. Surrey Choices’ alternative education programme encourages his strengths and interests and helps them to grow and develop by offering independence at work and helping him with career development.
Over the last month, Gabriel has been working with Sam Gregson, Vent-Axia’s Group Technical Manager for Unitary Fans, to design a hand dryer to Gabriel’s own specific requirements since he has a keen interest in and vast knowledge of hand dryers.
Gabriel became interested in hand dryers after initially being scared of them as a child. He is sensitive to noise and while he likes really high-speed, fast hand dryers, he does not like it when they are very loud.
Gabriel was invited to do work experience at Vent-Axia with four sessions over four weeks. He was given a tour of the product production, 3-D printing and R&D laboratory and took part in some experiments to show the benefits of the different types of hand dryers, with drying time tests.
Sam did a 3-D modelling demo on CAD – Autodesk Fusion 360 for Gabriel and set it up so Gabriel could practise at home afterwards. Together they wrote a hand-dryer specification and went through a design looking at critical success factors, working out a concept and then doing some renders in white and chrome at different angles.
Not only was it important that the hand dryer was quiet and fast, Gabriel also wanted a nozzle that rotated so that it dried his hands and face.
Sam Gregson comments: “Gabriel’s knowledge of hand dryers is immense and his understanding is very good – I was very impressed. Gabriel was keen to design a hand dryer that dried in 10 seconds.
“He had real focus and clarity of vision when it came to the design he wanted to achieve and it was a pleasure to work with him and provide this valuable work experience for him. I’ve worked for Vent-Axia for 20 years, but Gabriel’s knowledge of hand dryers was vast – probably better than mine!”
Richard Paine, Product and Marketing Director at Vent-Axia, comments: “Vent-Axia was happy to be able to help Surrey Choices and Gabriel by offering this work experience. We have all been impressed by Gabriel’s product knowledge.
“It’s great to be able to encourage and enhance this young man’s interest in part of our business.”
Sarah Oxby, Employability and Communities Manager at Surrey Choices, comments: “Gabriel has had a wonderful experience at Vent-Axia; he tested a range of hand dryers and with Sam’s help he designed a hand dryer using the software that the engineers use, to design a hand dryer specific to how Gabriel would like one to be.
“It was an amazing experience for him to gain experience in a working environment. Sam and Richard’s acknowledgement of Gabriel’s knowledge had been great for his self-confidence and he is very eager to take up more work experience opportunities.”
Gabriel is keen to take part in other placements to further enhance his knowledge and interest in hand dryers. If anyone is able to offer a placement, please contact: [email protected]
Surrey Choices provides a range of support services, which are dedicated to improving the independence, confidence, and life skills of disabled and autistic people and those with other support needs.
The organisation’s mission is to deliver innovative, sustainable services that enable choice and positive outcomes for the people we support, provided by skilled, engaged and inspired colleagues. For further information, visit www.surreychoices.com.
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