Tasmanian James Wilkes will share ideas with some of the brightest naval architects and engineers in the world when he jets off to France next week.
Mr Wilkes, an Australian Maritime College graduate, has been selected to participate in Naval Group's program to design and construct the next-generation of attack-class submarines.
At the AMC careers expo on Friday, Mr Wilkes was manning the Naval Group's expo stall, and encouraging AMC students to put their hands up for similar programs.
He said it was thanks to his experience at AMC that had helped him with the confidence to apply for the position at Naval Group.
"I never thought that I'd be working with submarines, it wasn't what I thought I'd be doing at all," he said.
He wasn't sure which direction his career would take. Next week, he will move to Cherbourg-Octeville in France, about three hours from Paris.
"We went over there about three months ago, looking for housing, me and my partner, and we are looking to stay there for three to five years," he said.
Mr Wilkes said he was part of a team that was responsible for the "balance" of the new submarines, which means looking at high system levels and ensuring they meet the requirements and standards required.
It will literally take hundreds of engineers more than 10 years to complete the design for the attack class submarine, and then several more years to build.naval architect James Wilkes
"I keep pinching myself, literally, about this opportunity. I feel like one of the luckiest naval engineers in Australia," he said.
Mr Wilkes said he would be sad to leave Tasmania and Australia behind, because he was a proud Tasmanian and his whole family lived in the state, but it was an opportunity that he could not pass up.
"I have worked on naval programs in the past but never anything like this, and it's mostly been in a support role," he said.
He said he had come to admire the complexity of submarines and had since grown a passion for them."
It may sound cliché, but the most surprising thing about my role at Naval Group Australia is just how complex the design of a submarine is," he said.
"It will literally take hundreds of engineers more than 10 years to complete the design for the attack class submarine, and then several more years to build.
When I compare this to some of the other projects I have worked on, it's off the scale, and the complexity is almost unimaginable."
Before starting work with Naval Group Australia, Mr Wilkes moved to Adelaide to work on another defence project, which he said was an incredible experience.
"I have made some incredible life-long friends and am really looking forward to returning to Adelaide after my move to France," he said.
"The truth is that as a naval architect, to be able to work on big defence projects in Australia you really have to live in Adelaide as it's the epicentre for naval shipbuilding in Australia."
Mr Wilkes said the naval shipbuilding plan offered "an incredible amount of opportunity" for past and present AMC students.
As part of his studies, Mr Wilkes has been able to work with Gerard Autret, one of Naval Group's senior naval architects.
"I have been very lucky to be able to work with some really supportive mentors during my time at Naval Group Australia. To be able to work every day with Gérard Autret, who is one of the best submarine architects in the world, has been an incredible experience for me," Mr Wilkes said.
"Additionally, having the ability to move into a more complex role (from project engineer to naval architect) has given me the opportunity to move to France, and really challenge and extend my engineering skills."
While he was not sure where his career would end up, Mr Wilkes said he became certain early on, that studying at the AMC was the right pathway for him.
"I don't have a family history of naval engineering or even in the maritime industry; my father owns a small business and I'm the first naval architect in my family," he said.
"But I always had a love for the ocean, and I'd heard that the AMC was a great place to study."
He said he would urge other Tasmanians and other people, from Australia and internationally, to consider a maritime career and to study at the AMC.
"It's very unique and has given me a lot of opportunities that I didn't expect," he said.
He said the age demographic was one thing that made AMC unique because it offered mentor opportunity and a chance to mix with other people.
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