Growing up in Nepal with limited electricity supply was the motivation for Diggaj Regmi to become an electrical engineer. In an interview with assertive marketing director Gerard McAllister, Diggaj discusses his role with Skillbuild and his plans to help Nepal with renewable energy systems.
Tell us about your first encounter with electricity?
We grew up with no electricity. When I was about nine years old they installed some lighting in our house. The teacher at school talked about how electricity worked. Fascinated by the power and the light we now had, I wanted to know more about how it all worked. I rigged an extra wire, so I could have a switch next to my bed. It worked, I remember turning it off and on. This is when I decided to learn more about physics and engineering.
After graduating from university in the UK where did you work?
I started to work full time with Ryness. I also worked on a 150kW Solar Farm as a trainee project engineer (Install and Design). That got me “on the roof” working on real renewable energy projects. I learnt a lot. I wanted to work in hydro electricity, so I could eventually go back to Nepal and give the remote locations some power. But I still needed to learn more before I could do it successfully.
Why did you move to Australia and where did you work?
I started to look for work in Australia as I felt that I wanted to increase my knowledge in renewable energy. Some countries embrace things more than others and I felt that Australia really embraced it. I felt I had spent enough time in England and it was getting too cold for me. So, I applied for a visa.
I landed in Sydney and lived with a friend in a suburb called Hornsby. I then thought I should gain some local accreditation, so I decided to do a Grid Connect course with Skillbuild Training. That course was fantastic as I learnt so much about the local industry and by the end of the course I was qualified with the CEC. I then worked with a local Solar Company where I designed systems. I did this for two years.
You did another course with Skillbuild Training.
Yes, I did their Off-Grid SPS design and install course. I then moved to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland working for Giant Power where I designed and installed both on-grid and off-grid systems.
How did you come to work with Skillbuild?
I really enjoyed the training with Skillbuild as they seemed to be a great source of knowledge and they were always willing to help. They had a position going for electrical engineer with renewable energy background. I noticed the job come up on seek and thought that it would be a great place to learn and work.
This was the amazing thing that happened. I met with the owner of Skillbuild, Bill Gammon and we had a great talk. He talked about the job and what he likes to do in his spare time. He said to me that he often goes to Nepal and that he has been delivering energy systems to remote areas. And he does this out of his own money. I couldn’t believe it, this was my dream. This was the reason that I had been doing all this study and learning. Now here I was sitting in front of an Australian person who has the same dream that I have! I thought this is the chemistry of life that pulls people together. When people have the same ambitions, they will often find themselves in the same place.
What do you do at Skillbuild?
I assist in the practical part of the training sessions. The students can ask me questions as they are working on the inverter or wiring something. I will also give them help after the class when they are in the real world designing or installing a system. Sometimes I will even go on site to help them with the job. Skillbuild have a unique way of doing their courses. No one gets left behind, and we will always follow up to see how the past students are going. This is a great sense of satisfaction as it is something I like to do; help people.
Have you gone back to Nepal?
Yes, I have. I’m glad to say that I have gone back to work on an off-grid system with Skillbuild to some of the remote areas. These systems aren’t large, but they are designed to give load shedding of 10 – 12 hours of power to compensate peak times which is often shut off. We build the off-grid system so people can still have power.
In fact, Skillbuild is sending me back to my home village to install an energy system. Skillbuild is supplying the equipment. Also, next Christmas I will be going back to a remote village to replace the kerosene lighting with a renewable energy system.
Interview conducted by Gerard McAllister.