Employee Spotlight: Ross Flavell
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in the United Kingdom and studied Mechanical Engineering in Scotland. I have always had a passion for innovation and the outdoors, so in my final year at university, a few friends and I worked at a technology start-up producing customized 3D printed insoles for sports. Initially we went into the ski boot industry, as anyone who skis will happily tell you how uncomfortable ski boots can be! Unfortunately, a similar university start-up from New York secured funding from Nike, who buried the technology in patents.
Before coming to Canada, I worked as a Mechanical Design Engineer in a company who specialize in the design, installation, and commissioning of specialist wave machines. The company primarily worked with research teams who test everything from offshore wind farms to deep sea ROVs (remotely operated vehicles).
In 2018, I decided to make a change and got my ‘golden ticket’ to come to Canada. I began to work at WhiteWater during the week and spend almost every weekend exploring the country and beautiful outdoors of British Columbia!
What is your position and some of your daily responsibilities?
I work within the Innovation Group, mainly focusing on play structures and a wide array of technology products. In the Innovation group, yes we ideate and create conceptual models, but a large part of our role is also spent piecing together knowledge from subject matter experts internally and externally to make sure the best concepts rise to the top. With this knowledge, we provide the Development Engineering Group with solid foundations to successfully execute on the design, prototyping, and testing of new products. The collaboration across these groups makes sure WhiteWater is creating the most exciting products for our customers and end users.
What got you interested in engineering?
As a child, I was always outdoors constructing things with my friends. As I grew up, I would build larger, more complicated contraptions and knew I always wanted to be an inventor. When I was a teenager my inquisitive nature continued, and I bought myself a Trials Motocross Bike—you have no idea how many times I crashed that thing and had to rebuild it!
When it came time to choose my subjects in college (Canada’s high school), I was torn between Marine Biology and Mechanical Engineering. It was my Grandfather’s brother who swayed me. He had so many amazing stories from his travels with work and was fortunate enough to lead some extremely important civil engineering projects in developing countries. This inspired me to pursue a career in Mechanical Engineering and continue my enthusiasm for product design.
What is the best career lesson you’ve learned so far?
The one thing that has always stuck with me is the phrase “never settle”. Although it can be perceived in many ways, this saying has encouraged me to never stop striving for improvements, no matter how big or small. The world is innovating so fast, any time you sit still the competition is going to come streaking past.
What’s your favourite WhiteWater product?
My favourite water slide product is the AquaLoop because the whole experience is such a buzz. The aesthetic wonder you see when you first approach, the anticipation growing in the queue and when the AquaLaunch capsule door finally closes and the countdown begins, it gives you just enough time for your adrenaline levels to peak. That’s all before the trapdoor releases and the freefall begins. Now for my favourite part, when the g-force presses you down and around the belly before firing you up and around the loop for another trip to freefall city! It is a ride made for adrenaline junkies—and that’s me!
As well as the thrilling portfolio WhiteWater already has, there are also some very exciting products we have in development. As much as I would love to tell all, my lips are sealed, but let’s just say we haven’t stopped striving!
What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
I really enjoy being outdoors, which was a huge part of moving to British Columbia. The province is an endless playground with jaw dropping scenery. Some of the activities I enjoy are hiking, skiing, mountain biking, and kayaking the rivers, lakes, and oceans.
I also really enjoy designing and crafting things. As a fairly new resident to Canada, I have only recently started setting up my home workshop space. I have just finalized the design and I’m very excited to start construction on my first project, a portable bouldering wall.
Who would you trade places with for a day?
I’m kind of cheating with this one but, I would love to go back to the late 15th / early 16th century and pick the brains of Leonardo da Vinci. Not only is he a hugely celebrated artist, but he was also an inventor who laid the groundwork for some incredible machines. Some of his feats include the Aerial Screw, which demonstrated rotation lift used in helicopters, conceptualizing flywheels, the parachute, and even a diving suit!
If I had to choose a modern-day inspiration it would be David Attenborough. Not only does he have the most captivating voice in some of the best nature documentaries, but he is also a key figure in the global sustainability effort.