Centurion, South Africa — Meet Hennie du Plessis a.k.a. “Cast Iron du Plessis”, Head of Development at the Stark Campus in Centurion. Read what this experienced senior radio frequency technician has to say about knives, RF electronics and making a difference.
Out of the box inspiration
What made you decide to follow this career path?
I received an “electronic experimentor kit” for my 11th birthday. I still have it. ?
Besides the role in your official job title, what do you actually do day-to-day?
I make sure the orders are being fulfilled for clients. I contribute solutions for new developments. And in an ongoing industrialisation process, I come up with working methods for the mass production of new products that are cost effective and high quality.
What's the best part of your day? What's most rewarding and most challenging about it?
Reaching a breakthrough solution for a problem. Coming up with an out of the box solution that makes our jobs easier and is cost effective.
Do you have an engineering hack or trick, either in the field or in the workshop, that you can share?
Using masking tape to keep tiny components in place when soldering.
What do you do for fun? And how often do you manage to take time out for that?
I make custom hand-crafted knives. I am a member of the Knifemakers’ Guild of Southern Africa. I always strive to produce a high quality fit and finish on my knives, and I challenge myself with new designs. The knives I enjoy making most are bird & trout, liner-lock folders and hunter or Persian-style fixed blades. You can see my work on Instagram. When I’m not at work, I’m in my workshop.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Can you tell us about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?
We were struggling for weeks with a casting issue and I was covered in casting from head to toe. We just couldn’t get the formula right and the deadline was within a few days. Out of desperation I tried something totally different, not expecting it to work… But it did.
What was the best career advice you've ever been given?
Always aim to make a difference in your industry.
Have you ever received a Stark award, and if so, what was it for?
I have received the Innovation Award two years in a row.
What is the most exciting recent development in RF electronics?
What do you like most about working at Stark?
My team and their go-getter spirit. "Go Team!"
What surprised you about working at Stark?
The rapid growth of the company.
Do you have any advice you’d like to share with a newcomer to this industry?
Be a team player and help out even if it is out of your responsibilities.
What are the three most critical steps of a successful RFID project?
1. Stay within the working frequency and power band of the specific country. 2. Size matters - go small! 3. Distance matters.
What would your closest colleagues say when asked to name the one characteristic that they totally enjoy about you, and the one that drives them insane?
I am caring and protective of my close work colleagues. What drives them insane is my unpredictability and changing designs.
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