Gloucester apprentices design custom campers for Drifta Camping & 4WD

From computer to camper: Kaito Sutton with one of the trailers he was an integral part in designing. Photo: Anne Keen
From computer to camper: Kaito Sutton with one of the trailers he was an integral part in designing. Photo: Anne Keen

At the end of year 11, Gloucester's Kaito Sutton made a choice to take on an apprenticeship. There was an opportunity at his father's business and he jumped at it. Drifta Camping & 4WD's draftsman was leaving and Kaito decided to take up the trade as an apprentice.

"I had a good opportunity and I took advantage of the opening," Kaito said. "If someone else was hired, it could be years before the position opened up again."

He liked designing things on a computer and seeing them come together in real life, which made him a perfect fit for the engineering drafting trade.

Since leaving Gloucester High School at the end of last year, he started to undertake a certificate III through TAFE. It was suggested to him that he start with the year long course, and when he's finished he can opt to continue for another year to gain his certificate IV.

Kaito had already learned a bit of the techniques through the former engineer and now he's completing the training with one day a week at Newcastle TAFE.

"HSC doesn't qualify you in CAD drawing," Kaito said. 

Computer Aided Drawing/Design, better known as CAD, is the computer software that allows draftsmen to design detailed 2D or 3D illustrations displaying the components of an engineering or architectural project. In Katio's case, he uses it to take the ideas his father, Luke, has for new products, and turn them into reality.

We wouldn't be able to do it without Kaito.

Luke Sutton

The latest project has seen him create the world's first family rooftop camper, based solely on a market need and Luke's idea that it could be made. For Luke, having Kaito take on the apprenticeship was a decision that has allowed the business to expand and create unique products unlike anything else on the market. 

"We wouldn't be able to do it without Kaito," Luke said. "He's a lot more receptive to new ideas. Less skeptical than designers who have been in the business for a while. A younger person brings new energy to a project. When I tell him what I want, he says, let's give it a go."

The willingness to try something does come with a few nerves.

Designing something on a computer is one thing, but cutting it out on very expensive materials and hoping it all fits together can be a little stressful. There is still room for error, with the manufacturing of components needing to still go through human hands. But the satisfaction of seeing the finished product is definitely more powerful.