Cobalt Nathan

Team Spotlight - Nathan

Team Spotlight – Nathan Scanlon

Our amazing staff are more comfortable getting excited by new design challenges than beating their own drum. So in this series, we turn the spotlight on our team to give you an insight into how they each tick. Our latest feature is on Nathan, one of our talented young product design engineers who began his journey at Cobalt through Swinburne’s placement program. He’s worked on key projects such as the AdaptFit Cable Trainer and OX Exoskeleton.

But what else is there to Nathan?

Favourite part of studying PDE?

My favourite part of studying PDE (product design engineering) was the exposure to industry experience I gained both here at Cobalt and through others that I was able to take part in. This allowed me to apply the skills that I was learning to real projects and clients, and even fit in a little bit of travel during my studies.

Niftiest thing you’ve learnt at Cobalt recently?

There are always new SolidWorks tools to learn so recently I picked up a handy sketch feature and some surfacing tips.

Other general interests outside of work?

Outside of work I like to stay active as much as possible. I’m always out on my road bike and will pick up any sport I can like cricket, tennis or footy. I’m a big Geelong Cats fan too and love to watch their matches.

I’m also into my music and am always on the hunt for new artists and live gigs.

Coolest home-brew product or project?

My bike is currently fitted out with all sorts of 3D printed accessories that I designed. I’ve made myself things like light mounts and a pump mount after getting tired of losing them to bumpy roads or thieves.

Hidden talent?

I’m a big trivia nerd so love getting stuck into the quizzes in the newspaper or trivia game shows.

What did you want to be growing up?

After realising there wasn’t much of a career in being a cowboy, I found my love for sketching and designing so rotated between wanting to be an architect or a car designer.

If you had one superpower what would it be?

I’d want to be able to teleport so I’ve got free, instant travel whenever I like.

If you could take one thing to a desert island what would it be?

Lots of sunscreen!

Best piece of advice for students looking to get in the field?

There are so many different sides of product design engineering and specialties within it so try get experience in as many as you can and then find what areas you want to master in.

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25 years anniversary

25 Year Anniversary

Cobalt’s first 25 years

This year marks 25 years since Cobalt was founded in 1996. So apart from already hoping this year will be better than 2020 (!) we are planning a number of initiatives for 2021 to mark our very own silver jubilee.

Over the last 25 years much has changed, in technology, society and of course, in design. Cobalt itself has steadily grown and renewed since ex-university friends Steve Martinuzzo and Jack Magree joined forces to create a new creative group. Now our team is much deeper and more diverse than ever, and our capacity to take on new and innovative projects at the forefront of product design has developed greatly.

Throughout the last decade we have strengthened our position within the top tier of Australian product design firms & consultancies, and increasingly we are working with global clients to undertake larger-scale projects from multinational organisations such as Heartsine, Bio-Rad, magAssist and Agilent.

By nature and profession, we are always looking ahead. But anniversaries are important occasions to stop and reflect before moving forward again.

So to preview our 25th Anniversary year, this video below features some of the amazing spectrum of projects we’ve been privileged to work on so far.

If you have any connection to these amazing projects or clients, please feel free to share this video with your colleagues or friends. And watch out for more Cobalt 25 Anniversary events during the year.

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carla

Team Spotlight: CPL

Team Spotlight: Carla Pelligra / Product Design Engineering Intern

Our amazing staff are more comfortable getting excited by new design challenges, than beating their own drum. So in this series, we turn the spotlight on our team to give you an insight into how they each tick. Our latest feature is on Carla Pelligra, our new engineering IBL for 2020.

Carla began studying PDE at Swinburne University in 2017, and is now embarking on a IBL placement at Cobalt as she enters her fourth year of study. But what else is there to Carla?

Favourite part of studying PDE so far?

I love how I get to design and create a product from scratch. The feeling of holding a physical product or idea that came to fruition and you can say ‘I made this is’, is amazing.

Niftiest thing you’ve learnt at Cobalt recently?

I have only been at Cobalt for less than a week but I am currently learning how to efficiently and properly use Solid Works, including the do’s and don’ts which I am really keen to learn.

Other general interests outside of work?

I play senior soccer for Keilor Park, which allows me to have my consistent dose of Nutella and not feel as guilty about it. I also play the violin and piano, so I love to jump on the instruments when I get a chance and create songs. I love watching the footy so I can’t wait for the season to start again, and I’m a sucker for sunsets, so I love taking photos of it! I also love getting out and about in the garden; nature makes me happy 🙂

Coolest home-brew product or project?

I guess the coolest home brew product that I’ve made would be a coffee table made out of steel and wood, which our TV now sits on.

Hidden talent?

I can actually water divine, so using two L-shaped metal rods I can find water… I know this sounds bizarre but I’ve tested it multiple times and it just works for me.  Also I’m pretty good at Mario kart, not going to lie.

What did you want to be growing up?

I really wanted to be a spy for a while (I’m not joking), but then afterwards I loved writing stories; so I think a fictional writer would have suited me well.

If you had one superpower what would it be?

To travel in space with no need for a spacesuit and to do this faster than the speed of light. That way I can explore galaxies, planets, stars and see events that are happening light years away (and I guess see if there is other life out there!).

If you could take one thing to a desert island what would it be?

I would have to bring my dog Charlie!

Best piece of advice for other students?

Keep exploring things that you are passionate or curious about. Ask heaps of questions and don’t be afraid to ask ones that you think may be silly; otherwise you will never get an answer. There have been times in the past where I didn’t ask questions out of fear of looking dumb, but we can’t know everything and we are always learning so don’t be scared.

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mark

Team Spotlight: MMF

Team Spotlight: Mark Matthews-Frederick / Senior Project Leader

Our amazing staff are more comfortable getting excited by new design challenges, than beating their own drum. So in this series, we turn the spotlight on our team to give you an insight how they each tick.

Our very first spotlight is on Mark Matthews-Frederick, one of our Senior Project Leaders in the Design Team. Since 2015, Mark has progressed his career at Cobalt from Industrial Designer to Senior Project Leader, acting also as the Design Team Resource Manager.

During his time at Cobalt Mark has lead, project managed and designed for some of our largest automotive projects to date, including the third generation Victoria Police ADT “Booze Bus”, BIS Industries Mining dump truck and Mobile Info Hub Van for the West Gate Tunnel Project. Mark has also been a contributing designer for multiple other projects across medical devices, consumer and sustainability products. But what else is there to Mark?

What was your experience before Cobalt?

I started out designing trains and trams for Bombardier Transportation (which was great experience) before going to Germany and working in the automotive industry for a couple of years. The highlight was being part of the interior design team for Bugatti and working on some really amazing cars. I’ve also designed a bunch of bike parts for Australian BMX companies Colony BMX and Division Brand. Cobalt has been a great next step in further developing my knowledge and design skills in a broad range of industries, user groups, materials and manufacturing techniques.

What’s the niftiest thing you’ve learnt at Cobalt recently?

I am constantly learning new tricks for Photoshop sketching/rendering from our gun designers Graeme Marshall and Andrew Fanning. Recently it has been some techniques with masks and smart objects.

Other general interests outside of work?

Bikes (all types of cycling but BMX is still my real passion); cricket and plenty of other sports; and music is an important part of my life as well (DJ-ing and production of sample-based house/disco type stuff, as well as collecting vinyl and discovering gems from all styles from the 70s and 80s).

Coolest home-brew product or project?

Nothing too original or ‘cool’ I guess, but I’ve built a few steel frame BMX bike ramps (tallest one was about 6 foot tall) that have stood the test of time pretty well. And speaking of BMX, I should also mention the many bikes; as well as acres of bike tracks and dirt jumps I have built (with only a shovel!) over the years.

So you just completed a half marathon?

My partner Megan is a good runner; she’s done a couple of half-marathons in the past and was keen for the rather tough run up kunanyi (Mt Wellington) out of Hobart. I am by no means a runner, but always up for a physical challenge so I agreed… I did survive though, and it was good fun. Megan and I ran together for the first 15km or so, but after that I couldn’t keep up with her any more – she ended up beating me by about 5 minutes by the end!

Hidden talent?

I still enjoy drawing quite a lot, but these days I don’t get the chance too often – except for when my ‘creative director’ (Megan) has an idea for her friends’/relatives’ birthday cards that she would like to see come to fruition… So I guess the hidden talent could be referred to as ‘birthday-card-art’?

What did you want to be growing up?

I always loved drawing cars, bikes, planes, etc. and I can remember when my grandfather told me about Industrial Design. I would have been 10 or 12 years old, and from then on I knew that was for me. But, when I was really young, I wanted to be a garbage man because that would mean I could get up really early and be out working in the dark – this seemed so romantic at the time…

If you had one superpower what would it be?

I know everyone says it, but being able to fly would just be so much fun!

If you could take one thing to a desert island what would it be?

My vintage pair of red Oakley Eyeshades. It’s important to protect one’s eyes when stranded on a desert island, and also important to look good while doing so.

Best piece of advice for young designers?

Keep sketching! A good product sketch can do many things – communicate form, communicate function, highlight important details or portray emotion – or all of these things, often without even needing a high degree of realism. Nothing grabs my attention more than a great sketch.

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Wrecker to Roadworthy

Wrecker to Roadworthy – Josh vs Libby in Cobalt’s car restoration projects

The Cobalt team have an eclectic range of fascinating hobbies outside work. However, the word ‘hobby’ doesn’t quite cover the car restoration projects; obsession might be a better description.  Two of our team, Associate Principal Libby Christmas and engineering intern Josh Bell, are in the thick of their very own car restorations. Libby’s 1961 Morris Minor 1000 and Josh’s 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle L are currently parked at their houses, slowly being restored to their former glory. Libby rescued her car from its idle life under a tree, and Josh’s was formerly owned by an elderly lady, in a decent state albeit some questionable wiring. Despite each car being run down, Libby and Josh saw the sparks of potential waiting to be revived. But has their design and engineering backgrounds helped or hindered their progress?

What inspired you to start the project?

Libby: I was torn between a fun car and further study. But I figured a car project was a great way to do both! That and an excuse to have some fun with car design.

Josh: I’ve always had a pretty strong interest in cars (especially the late 60s to 70s) and I love building/restoring. It’s been inevitable that I would buy a project car since I was 13! Plus, it was a great opportunity to learn more about basic mechanics.

How far along in the restoration process are you?

L: It’s been a slow start removing rusted and stuck parts, as well as learning metal fabrication and welding skills; but things are speeding up. The rear end is almost rust free, and the modifications to fit in newer lights, widen the guards and re-shape the rear bumper area are partially completed. New suspension upgrades should have the rear end finished this year. The front end is going to take a lot longer… but I’d like to be driving the car before I turn 40!

J: It’s coming along a lot faster than I thought; my goal is to have it back on the road this year. At the moment I’m on track. I fixed the majority of the engine issues for now and the interior is 80% done. The suspension and brake overhaul is next.

What part are you most looking forward to completing?

L: Having it run will be fantastic, but the most exciting part is the customisation. I’m changing the body form a lot and incorporating newer features. I’m looking forward to seeing the physical output of my imagination.

J: I can’t wait to lower it! I’ve completed a lot of the other fun jobs and lowering it is the last major one. Once it’s got the right stance I’ll feel as though it’s much closer to being done. I’m also really keen for a bit of an engine overhaul. I’m planning on a adding a couple of speed parts to make it a meaner bug.

Any stories from dodgy car parts sellers?

L: Actually the parts sellers have all been great! I get a lot of encouragement from the guys working/shopping at the wreckers and people in the car community. The only dodgy seller was the guy that sold me the car – who said it was running when he parked it. But the lack of critical hoses, battery, and some epic engine block corrosion showed otherwise…

J: Apart from the classic issues of trying to buy stuff from gumtree or marketplace it’s been pretty easy. I have a fair few odd parts to buy in the next few weeks so we’ll see how that pans out.

What part has taken the longest to repair?

L: Rust! It’s a relatively low-rust car compared to others, but 60 year old rusty bolts are very slow to remove without damage. As my welding and panel fab skills improve I’m a bit freer with the angle grinder and so it’s getting faster.

J: Trying to lower the thing, especially the rear end. It’s becoming extremely difficult due to a 3mm interference. If it cleared it would be a half day job…. I’m dreading getting into it properly but also excited to make it work. My motivation to put the bug on the ground is too high to stop me now.

Has your product design background helped or hindered the process?

L: I’d say both. I have higher standards of finding solutions that both work and look good, and I want the finished result to look as good as a new car – which can be frustrating when I have some gaps in my car specific skills or knowledge. But it’s a benefit to be able to use CAD and trial changes before I do something on the car, to reshape things completely or to design custom parts. I think it’ll mean I’ll end up with a different type of result than most home builders would.

J: At the moment it’s helped heaps. I’ve had to build a few custom parts and I am planning a lot more in the near future. A lot of the plastics parts in the beetle have been bashed, warped or vanished. Once I tune my 3D printer, hopefully those parts can be replaced and updated. Parts the old owners hacked (like the radio) will be nice to replace. Ultimately, using my product design background to make things for the car is also a way for me to put my own individual mark on it and make it a little more one of a kind.

What do you like most about the other person’s car?

L: It runs!! Josh has taken an approach that lets him enjoy the car a lot sooner, which I’m quite jealous of…

J: I really envy the amount of custom work Libby is doing to her Morris. I think that the amount of herself that’s she’s putting into the car will make it so rewarding and awesome when it’s on the road.

So will there be a next project? Libby noted that she’s concentrating on finishing this one before she even thinks about another. And while Josh agrees that his will also take a while longer, he’d love to do a “ground-up” car project or buy an old ‘clinker-style’ ski boat with a V8 inboard. If not that, an old school American muscle car is in his sights.

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health symposium

Symposium

Monash University Health Collab Design+ Health and Medical Innovation Symposium

Presented by Monash University Health Collab, the 2019 Design+ Health and Medical Innovation Symposium brought together researchers from different disciplines to spark design collaboration and envision a new future for healthcare. Held on March 12 at the Monash Art Design and Architecture (MADA) Centre in Kunshan China, Cobalt’s designs for the Dermapen 4 and Cylite OCT instrument were featured.

The Monash University Health Collab is an interdisciplinary team of researchers, designers and clinicians who employ a people-centred design approach to understand and provide significant high-impact healthcare. MADA Practice Professors Daphne Flynn and Mark Armstrong, along with Centre Director Ian Wong and Centre Creative Director Bernie Walsh run the symposium as a catalyst for innovation and to celebrate design achievements in the health space.

The 2019 March symposium drew academics and business people from both within and outside the health space, facilitating fresh collaboration and inspiring deeper conversations about the future of health care. In a video presented by Health Collab directors Professor Daphne Flynn and Professor Mark Armstrong, they spoke about the importance of utilising design as vehicle to increase traction for health outcomes, and understanding that design is the common thread connecting us all.

The result of the symposium was a success, enabling academics from all over the world to engage with high tech medical companies in Kunshan and to celebrate outcomes already achieved, including Cobalt’s designs.

Wining a Good Design award in 2018, the Dermapen 4­ sets a new benchmark for improving the effectiveness of treatments and resolving traditional limitations, such as power-cord handling issues, calibration difficulties and potential cross-contamination prevention. The DP4 is also the first micro-needling tool capable of performing scar-treatments. The patent-pending 16 needle cartridge has unparalleled needling depth, allowing practitioners to access the Scar Treatment market, expanding the horizons of their practice’s offering.

Similarly, aimed for use in a variety of clinical settings (including both research laboratories and patient-serving clinics) the Cylite HP-OCT ophthalmic device was designed to integrate a high technology core within an ergonomic, user friendly exterior. The revolutionary ocular imaging and measurement technique overcomes issues of motion artefacts or data error from patient eye movement during OCT imaging, and offers a unique proposition to clinicians with its ability to replace four different instruments. The fully automated volumetric acquisition reduces patient chair time and improves the reliability of the results, eliminating guesswork during analysis and diagnosis.

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WOC

The Women of Cobalt – International Women’s Day 2019

This year’s International Women’s Day has inspired us to acknowledge the wonderful women at Cobalt. 2019 marks Cobalt’s highest female participation-level ever, with women making up almost 50% of Cobalt’s staff.  While this is a feat in itself for the industry, what should be celebrated most is the strong work ethic, positive attitude and multi-disciplinary skills that have led them to the positions they’re in today.

According to recent statistics, only 15% of engineering-based graduates are female in Australia. While these numbers are increasing, a large disparity remains between women who graduate from these qualifications and those that make a career of it. Consequently, when it comes to senior roles in product design and mechanical R&D engineering there is a deep lack of female representation.

Comparing these figures to Cobalt’s team dynamics, our balance is a rarity. From admin to engineering, our women are kicking goals not only in their projects, but for female representation and leadership within our industry. Their roles span across project leadership, product engineering, design, admin, finance, marketing and UX strategy.

Cobalt was founded on a culture of teamwork and respect. Our unique strength is the collective of every one of our people; so Cobalt’s diversity and inclusion makes sense in producing outstanding design results. Our shared vision, passion and cohesion creates an environment that invites our team to be their best.

When asked what drives them, the women of Cobalt said that the “sense of achievement when seeing a physical outcome succeed” and “achieving things other people couldn’t” is the motivational force behind their work. But ultimately, what inspires them is the “energy, motivation and passion” of the team and knowing that “the world is better for someone, somewhere because of what we do”.

This ‘can-do’ supportive attitude has been the key to our past successes and current capabilities, building upon the achievements future teams will aspire toward. And there’s no doubt that the women of Cobalt have stepped up as role models for those within the field and those entering it, contributing to a stronger female representation within the industry. We look forward to what heights they will reach next, confident they can do anything they put their mind to.

(Mary and Victoria absent from main picture).

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Cobalt's Staff Values

Cobalt: Teamwork Unplugged

Cobalt Teamwork Unplugged

A couple of years back, Cobalt undertook a programme with Leading Teams. The process was tremendously inspiring, not surprising, given that whole books have been written about the results Leading Teams have achieved at the highest corporate and elite sports levels.

So a couple of years on, we feel we have enough perspective to give a brief overview of our motivation and outcomes in undertaking our own Leading Teams programme.

For our group, the Leading Teams programme has helped us be our best; professionally and collectively. For our clients and suppliers we hope these have flowed through to better project outcomes. But, recognising internal philosophies can be difficult to see from the outside. We’d like to share these statements (tenets) which we at Cobalt have collectively subscribed to.

 ________________________________________________________________________________________________

Trademarks which define us

Our shared values (Trademarks) are Innovation, Professionalism and Passion. We apply these across our business, and within any role; from Admin to Design to Engineering.

Real support

Meeting deadlines, “Technical challenges,” Engaging with clients and high-pressure situations. Everyone at Cobalt works to support each other and share the load in these peak periods. Actions like cutting some slack, a cup of tea or an offer to stay back late are great examples of our team’s support. At Cobalt, there’s no ‘them’ or ‘me’; there is only ‘us.’

Think “team”; value feedback

Cobalt’s strength lies in our people and each project team. Thinking in teams means valuing and respecting everyone, maintaining solid working relationships and having the right conversations with the right people at the right time. Feedback is given and received positively and maturely, ensuring that the team is putting their best foot forward for the project’s success.

Service the client

Cobalt has one purpose— we exist for our clients. On a company-wide level, we value our client’s needs and wants, being professional, friendly and helpful at all times under every circumstance.

Set your own strategies

Multitasking and managing incoming demands/information is the nature of our business. Being individually organised gives every team member the flexibility to ensure that they and others can get their jobs done. On many tasks Principals or Project Leaders will outline what we need on client projects. At an individual level everyone needs to manage how, when and what is done to achieve these tasks.

Respect

We should all expect to go to work and enjoy the experience. Being valued and respected is the standard at Cobalt. We show value and respect by taking care of our own responsibilities, not taking others for granted, being helpful and approachable, being polite and never losing your cool.

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While our tenets may seem like obvious factors to consider in any good creative team, it takes conviction and balance to maintain these as aspirations people can rely upon. Every member of our team takes these to heart for in the countless actions, decisions, and steps toward the completion of each client project we undertake. They are what have driven us over our twenty-two years of design practice.

Cobalt is more than just a faceless creative development group — we’re a team. We’re always ready to improve, and we’re ready for any challenge that comes our way.

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Cobalt Design Alumni

20 years of Cobalt Alumni

A Cavalcade of Cobalters 

I recently turned 50 and a photo book was put together to mark the occasion. Of course, given Cobalt has occupied over a third of my life, the album had to include Cobalt people and projects!  At first it was idle curiosity, but it soon evolved into a quest involving dusty CD-ROMs and old archive folders to find pictures of all the people that have worked for us since we started business in 1996.

At Cobalt we have always been aware that we have amazing team members. And that each of these, present and past, have done more than worked on projects during their time with us. They have all contributed to our current capabilities; the processes today’s team build upon and the traditions tomorrow’s teams will aspire toward.

As below, the act of rummaging through archives led us to realise how broad the group of people who have worked for us has become. There is easily over a hundred and fifty people once you include contractors, casuals, interns and work experience students. Many of those that have worked with us have gone onto truly impressive careers within the product development space. Some still have their careers ahead of them, but it is great seeing them all evolve and achieve great things whatever they do.

The exercise is also a great excuse to try and make contact with Cobalt Alumni that we have lost touch with, and see what they are up to.

Below is our progress on the collection so far, with several people still due to send me their pictures for inclusion. So if you, or anyone you know, have been missed in our evolving Alumni picture collection please let me know. Lastly, apologies in advance; the pictures are roughly, but definitely not precisely, arranged according to four chronological periods. We will give you an update once our quest progresses.

Regards

Steve Martinuzzo
co-founder


Call of Africa

Goodbye Cobalt, Hello Africa

Goodbye Cobalt, Hello Africa

Well I’ve had a fantastic 4 years here at Cobalt. It’s been a very enjoyable experience where I’ve learnt a great deal and had the good fortune to work with a bunch of very talented people. From designing heart starters to toddler scooters to GPS units for tractors, it certainly has been full of diversity – very different to the manufacturing design environment that I had previously been working in. But it is all about to change as Africa beckons yet again.

Since I returned from a year of living in Uganda in 2004 I have had a strong desire to return. From previous editions you may have seen my designs for a clay stove and a water container which were based on problems that I encountered in Uganda. This interest in socially responsible design has led me to start a not-for-profit called Designers with Soul, which I aim to develop further once in Africa. The idea behind the organisation is to work directly with communities to develop sustainable design solutions to local problems. My experience in Uganda has given me an insight into the importance of cultural sensitivity in design and how the community must take ownership of the product in order for it to be sustainable. Therefore I believe the key is to provide these communities with the necessary problem solving skills to then develop solutions and create change for themselves.

While I am in Africa I also plan to explore employment opportunities as an industrial design lecturer. As an education volunteer in Uganda I became aware of the significance that education plays in the future of Africa. Educating the youth to become future leaders and innovators is the key to change. And they need to be able to compete on a global stage. So lecturing in design and sharing the knowledge that I have developed while at Cobalt are also goals of mine while in Africa.

Goodbye from me for now but I’m sure you’ll be reading my updates from Africa in future Newsflashes!

Lorrin Windahl