Romar Supports Advanced Manufacturing Careers with WSBC

Romar Engineering was very pleased to recently take part in a Western Sydney Business Connection (WSBC) project to promote advanced manufacturing careers for Year 9 and Year 10 students.


Western Sydney is home to a high proportion of manufacturers, and it’s set to become an innovation hub with developments including the Advanced Manufacturing Research Facility (AMRF) and Aerotropolis.

Simultaneously, skills shortage is a concern. A 2018 study by Deloitte in the US estimated that 2.4 million manufacturing positions would remain unfilled in the following two years due to factors including generational shift (the retirement of highly skilled baby boomers), reduced intake due to the misconception that manufacturing is a shrinking sector and a shortage of technological skills.

With Australian manufacturing employment projected to increase by over 50,000 in the next five years, WSBC set out to build a program to excite young people about the potential of advanced manufacturing careers. Four of Romar’s team took part, and here’s what they had to say.

Steve Milanoski

Steve Milanoski

Steve Milanoski is Romar’s Head of Advanced Manufacturing, and his eclectic career includes a stint in the navy and eight years with SpaceX, where he designed the first 3D part to fly in space.

Unsure what direction to take, Steve joined the navy from college. It gave him discipline… and a newly found interest in materials. The next step was a materials engineering degree. While at university, Steve volunteered at the campus machine shop working with wood – “My grandfather was a woodworker and I picked up lots from him” – and then metal, before landing a teaching role.

“It was really satisfying. I was interacting with people with vastly different requests and I was able to help them out because I understood the engineering behind it. That experience, even more than my navy role, put me in the position to get a job at SpaceX.”

Steve joined the SpaceX propulsion team, designing valves and actuators for rockets. “At SpaceX you get 20 years of experience in 10. It’s the principle of extreme ownership. You’re not responsible for a part, you’re responsible for a function, like keeping the cold oxygen out of the engine until the right time, and I was really fortunate to get that tip to tail experience.”

After marrying an Australian, Steve realised there was something very interesting happening here. The Australian Space Agency had just been formed when Steve met Romar founder, Neil Wilson, at a conference. Before long, he jumped on board.

“We’re the only manufacturer in Australia with a proper hybrid platform, and it was the machine I used at SpaceX. Australia is a bit behind in the adoption of additive technologies, but here at Romar, we’re trying to expedite that. Australia has a real opportunity not to be an early adopter, but to be a leapfrog adopter and make a mark globally.”

Rita Nicolas

Rita Nicolas

As Romar’s Manufacturing Manager, Rita Nicolas oversees our day to day manufacturing operations across multiple facilities, to ensure seamless manufacturing processes.

“I’ve been here for around eight years. I started in the quality department and projects team. I moved to take over one facility and now I oversee all of them, each with their own manager. I did an internship straight from university. I had a biomedical engineering degree and a materials degree, so Romar was an ideal fit.”

Rita’s diverse role includes quoting, reviews of current processes and general maintenance. “I ensure every project is quoted correctly, our processes are working, and that we have the staff and training in place. With every project, the journey can be quite long, but getting to the end product is very rewarding.”

Morgan Wagner

Morgan Wagner

Another former intern is Morgan Wagner, who joined us as a Manufacturing Engineer after completing his degree last year.

“When I left school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I decided on a double degree in engineering and science. My science focus was on human biology and through that I became interested in biomedical engineering, which triggered my interest in Romar. I called Alan and he kindly took me on for a 12 week internship, which I loved.”

Morgan now works across our advanced manufacturing and clean room departments. “On a day to day basis, I make sure everything is ready to go for production, and everything is in place to get our products out the door on time.”

Morgan is also looking forward to Romar’s future directions.

“We’re looking to manufacturing valves for aerospace, and I’m very excited to be joining in on that. I had a fair bit of experience with fluid dynamics at university, so to be able to design valves will be an awesome application of what I’ve learnt.”

Alan Lipman

Alan Lipman

A successful manufacturing company needs both expert engineering – and solid business skills. Alan Lipman is Romar’s CEO, and he’s been running manufacturing companies for close to 25 years.

“My dad was a businessman, and I grew up wanting to do the same. I studied business administration at UTS and now, having run several engineering businesses, I have a fundamental understanding of engineering applications.”

The diversity of Romar’s expertise keeps it interesting. “We’ve built our reputation on medical device manufacturing and industrial manufacturing, which is all about material science. We make seals, gaskets, washers that are used in submarines, rockets and many areas. We’re now adding to our existing capability utilising additive metal technologies.”

For Alan, the complexities of advanced manufacturing are a drawcard. “As a contract manufacturer, we take other people’s ideas and transform them. Scientists working in a laboratory can spend a lot of money using very expensive equipment to achieve a result. We have to find a way to manufacture something designed in a lab, that makes sense, using commercial processes… which can be hugely challenging.

I really enjoy that we manufacture for diverse sectors including medical, defence, mining and aerospace. We’ve been here for 50 years, and we’re still in business because we’re still innovating.”

Engineers use computer and 3D printer to build complex component

Build your career with Romar

Romar has consistently embraced innovation to remain a leader in manufacturing solutions. We have broad manufacturing capability across areas including additive manufacturing, medical device manufacturing, precision molding and elastomers – and we’re always on the lookout for the best and brightest young students for our intern program.

“My advice is to dip your toe in and see if you like it, and don’t be afraid to get pushed in a certain direction to try it,” says Rita. “The field is so large that if you do find something you’re interested in, there is a path for you.”

Please contact us for leading manufacturing solutions, or to discuss your advanced manufacturing career.