Cabalaba tradesman Rusty Routledge is taking 3D printers and electric laser guns into the next dimension as he embarks on a year-long mechatronics scholarship in Japan.
After starting his own sheet metal business as a teenager and being named a National Worldskills Champion in his trade, the multitalented 24 year old now has his sights set on the world of robotics.
A skilled craftsman, he has been balancing the busy demands of running a construction business with undertaking an Advanced Diploma in Engineering specialising in robotics and mechatronics.
His efforts caught the attention of the Queensland Overseas Foundation who have awarded him a one year scholarship to work in the field of mechatronics in Japan next year.
Rusty said moving to Japan to purse his passion was a dream come true. 
“For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in electronics and technology. 
“When I started my apprenticeship in sheet metal work I wasn’t quite sure where it might take me, but I knew that working with my hands and creating something from nothing made me happy.
“In the last few years I have developed a real passion for robotics and mechatronics.
“I’m very excited to now be going to Japan and potentially working for a world leading company in this cutting edge area.”
However Rusty said his new knowledge and experience will not be lost to Queensland.
“I will be working in Japan for one year and then returning back to Australia. I want to do my part in helping Queensland to be at the forefront of the rapidly growing area of mechatronics.” 
CSQ CEO Brett Schimming said the building and construction industry offered a wide range of career pathways.
“With the industry moving at a rapid pace thanks to new technologies and materials, learning a trade can really open doors for your career.” he said.
“Rusty was one of our ambassadors for industry in CSQ’s Tradie Vs video campaign last year, he showed us his creative design skills when competing in our Myth Busters style challenges.
“Not only is Rusty a great mentor who supports younger apprentices, he is helping to show the next generation of construction workers the value of learning a trade and I wish him every success in Japan,” he said.
Not content with his own studies and career-development, Rusty is committed to teaching others. He is a frequent guest speaker at schools and is an Australasian Apprenticeships Ambassador.
His experience as a former WorldSkills contestant is also being put to good use, with the organisation inviting him to join the Queensland Judging Panel.   
Rusty knows firsthand just what it takes to succeed in the competition. After winning his category at the Nationals in 2014, he honed his skills by building 22 patio heaters in six months as part of his preparation for the International Competition in London.
His efforts were rewarded with a fourth placing, a prestigious honour which placed him at the very top of his trade globally.
No doubt we will be hearing more from Rusty as his future looks very bright indeed.