Damen is a company that believes in investment in innovations and new technologies. A major part of this is accomplished by existing in-house departments – R&D or Design & Proposal, for instance. Also contributing to the influx of fresh ideas and ‘new blood’ is the company’s student placement programme. Here, we meet up with Justin Rietveld, a 23 year old Damen Technical Cooperation Engineer who recently completed his internship recently.
How long have you worked at Damen?
Two and a half years. I have been working in Gorinchem, the Netherlands, in the DTC (Damen Technical Cooperation) engineering department since August 2016, but I started here as an intern while I was studying Maritime Technology at Rotterdam Mainport University of Applied Sciences.
What was your motivation for studying Maritime Technology?
Well, from a young age I was always fascinated by vessels. My parents had a boat that we holidayed on, and also my father worked in the shipbuilding business. It was actually a very straightforward decision to choose that course because I never wanted to study anything else. I have never doubted this career path.
What was it like being a Damen intern?
I received a lot of support from the whole department. Actually, this is the same for everybody here – everyone is open for ideas and is willing to help.
For my graduation project I really wanted to design a new vessel with a new concept because this is something that I am very passionate about. So I went to the Design and Proposal team in the Offshore and Transport department and we came up with an idea to design a range of vessels for the decommissioning sector. Designing these vessels from scratch involved a lot of sharing ideas and discussions within the department. It was a great project that resulted in the Damen Decommissioning Series. I am proud of the recognition my graduation project has achieved: prizes at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and the Royal Dutch Society of Maritime Technicians (KNVTS), and it was also nominated for the Dutch Maritime Design Award. But also within Damen, the department is now continuing with the project and looking at the possibilities of the concept, which is quite exciting!
Tell us more about your current job in the DTC Engineering department.
DTC provides design and engineering packages for vessels that will be built at non-Damen yards around the world. This means that every project is different. This is because we’re dealing with so many variables – different cultures from different countries, but also the technologies and facilities that yards have at their disposal varies so much. The work also involves so many types of vessels: tugs, hopper dredgers, crane barges, pontoons, high speed craft, for example. And each project has unique client-specific equirements.
You are participating in the Damen Leadership Development Programme. Tell us more about that.
In a nutshell, this is a 9-month long programme for young, eager people within the company that show potential for key positions in the future. There are fourteen of us taking part from various departments; from sales, engineering, services, design and proposal, for instance. We meet 2 or 3 days per month for intensive training. And on top of that, we get strategic assignments from the Executive Board.
These involve a mixture of disciplines – marketing, internal information and logistics to name a few. All the assignments are team projects. In fact, everything we do in the programme is done as a team. This is logical really because, after all, we don’t build vessels on our own – they are a product of teamwork.
How do you see your career progressing at Damen?
Ship design is where my passion is, but, on the other hand, engineering is also extremely rewarding. And it is definitely an advantage for a designer to have engineering experience. When I feel that I have learnt the basics, I want to move on within Damen. The trouble is that I haven’t decided yet in which direction – design or engineering. It’s a tough choice, but I am glad that Damen gives me the opportunity to fulfil my career ambitions while also being the most effective for the company.
What makes working at Damen so special?
Damen is a successful, worldwide company, which gives you the opportunity to work with colleagues and clients around the world. I really like the diversity of projects and vessels. And, because I want to grow within the company, I really like the way that personal development is stimulated. And Damen is very open-minded. You can go to anybody to ask questions or discuss ideas – the doors here are always open.
LIFE OUTSIDE DAMEN.
What do you do when you are not working?
I play korfball at Dutch regional level. That means training twice a week and competitions on Saturdays. Korfball is very big in the Netherlands and Belgium, but not very well known in the rest of the world. For example, the Korfball World Championship finals are always between the Netherlands and Belgium! I also enjoy snowboarding and just hanging out with friends.