While most people start out as a mechanic then aspire to get into engineering, Jonathan Wolf went the other way. He couldn’t be happier.

Jonathan Wolf followed a different pathway to find his passion – working on trucks.

After high school, he did a Bachelor of Engineering and eventually got a job as an engineer with Kenworth designing heavy-duty commercial vehicles.

However, after doing a few stints out in the factory, he decided he didn’t want to be behind a desk anymore – he wanted to work on the trucks.

“I did some investigation, went to a couple of shops and decided to join Hallam Truck Centre,” says Jonathan. “I got my apprenticeship from there and I haven’t looked back. It’s been great.”

As part of his apprenticeship, Jonathan completed a Certificate III in Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanical Technology through Chisholm.

He thrived as a mature-aged student, even winning the Bill Norling Award for Outstanding Automotive Apprentice at the 2022 Chisholm Education Awards.

One of the biggest highlights of Jonathan’s time at Chisholm was being selected with one other student to do a tear down on a Caterpillar engine.

“The instructors we had were amazing,” says Jonathan. “They were really knowledgeable guys who between them had about 180 years’ experience in different fields – marine diesel, light vehicle, heavy vehicle, heavy plant, motorbikes – everything. The stories and the experience they shared were great.”

Working as an apprentice truck mechanic, Jonathan’s typical day starts somewhere between 7am and 7.45am and finishes when that truck finally leaves the yard.

He can be doing servicing or repairs on anything from transit buses to heavy haulers.

Jonathan is also on the “breakdown team”, meaning he can get a call at any hour of the night to assist with a truck that has broken down.

“We do most repairs in-house, we work on most makes and models, and we never have the same day twice,” says Jonathan.

“I love the technology that we get to play with and finding actual solutions – that’s probably why I left engineering. I like the ability to see a problem, work out a solution, implement it and see if it actually worked. There’s no bureaucracy, budgetary constraints, or politics to deal with – it’s just about getting the truck moving.”

Jonathan’s grandfather was a mechanic, and while his father listened to his grandfather’s advice not to become one, Jonathan’s three other brothers ended up as various styles of mechanics.

Jonathan seems to have a natural flair for the job – something that must run in his family.

“There was this one callout I had where there were three different mechanics working on it during the day from different shops who couldn’t fix it,” says Jonathan. “They had spent hours on it. When I got there, I had it diagnosed in an hour, had it fixed in two hours and back on the road. It was a good confidence boost and a good way to show that I’m actually learning what I’ve set out to study.”

Jonathan says his engineering background has no doubt helped him excel.

“I get a different perspective on the physics of how the machines actually work together,” says Jonathan. “It’s not just nuts and bolts, I understand why they’re using certain technologies, certain chemicals, certain materials and why I need to be careful with certain tools. I understand the theoretical side of it.”

Despite the head start with the “brainy stuff”, Jonathan admits that learning the hands-on practical skills required for the job was a “massive jump”.

“The biggest learning curve I found, as my teacher Barry Jones has always said, is the development of “mechanical feel”. The ability to feel when tight is tight, when that seal is seated correctly, understanding what that noise means, and when to use that hammer,” he says. “I’m definitely using the skills I learnt at Chisholm every day on the job.”

Jonathan plans to keep learning and expanding his knowledge base.

Eventually he would like to try different versions of heavy diesel – marine diesel, heavy plant, hydraulics, and auto electrical – then own his own shop.