Melbourne Polytechnic graduate, Michael Barton, worked as a painter and decorator for 18 years before a skydiving accident forced him to retire and choose a new career.
An interest in computers led him to enrol in a systems engineering course at Melbourne Polytechnic, and Michael now teaches computer classes at TAFE.
Two years ago former painter and decorator, Michael Barton, barely knew how to use a computer. Today he’s teaching computer systems at two TAFE institutes, including Melbourne Polytechnic. The 40-year-old Diamond Creek resident completed the Advanced Diploma of Computer Systems Engineering at Melbourne Polytechnic in 2009, and started teaching the same year. “I always had an interest in computers and I knew there would be jobs in it. But I had no idea what I wanted to do. It just happened that I really liked teaching.”
Michael worked as a painter and decorator for 18 years and was a keen skydiver until he broke both ankles in a skydiving accident. “I spent two years on my back recovering. I wanted to get out of the trade anyway so I decided to go to Melbourne Polytechnic. The people I spoke to there really gave me the confidence to do the course.”
Taking on full-time study wasn’t easy for the father of two. “It was very challenging, but that’s not a bad thing. It was everything I expected and probably more.” When he first started the course, his knowledge of PCs was limited. “They taught me everything, how to operate it, navigate and how to look for and solve problems. The quality of the course was great and the teachers made all the difference. They were very helpful and they were always around to help.”
Last year, Michael was named Melbourne Polytechnic Faculty of Engineering’s Outstanding Student of the Year. “It was a surprise and a bit of a reward for all the hard yakka that I’ve had to do.” He says Melbourne Polytechnic provides a flexible learning environment, especially for mature students. “The teachers made a difference and the TAFE sector was so much better because it’s hands-on and I’m a kinaesthetic learner. At Melbourne Polytechnic if you want to spend more time doing the course you can. I could take another class at Heidelberg if I wanted to. It allows you to catch up.”
The move into teaching happened naturally when Michael started helping fellow students. “I picked things up quickly and I helped a few people out.” This led to a volunteer role coaching a first year student with disabilities. “A couple of teachers were impressed with that and thought I did a good job, so they offered me a sessional teaching job on the Build your own PC short course.” From there he went on to teach at Box Hill TAFE and Melbourne Polytechnic. “I did get lucky in a way. Being a teacher wasn’t something I’d dreamed of, but it’s something I’m happy I have done.”
Advanced Diploma of Computer Systems Engineering