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Dan, Off-Grid Engineer

Dan is an aerospace engineer with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He is a passionate maker who likes to create things; including his self-built Sprinter van! Currently travelling in Europe, Dan enjoys finding spots to hike, mountain bike and rollerblade.

Dan’s engineering journey began when he joined Rolls-Royce as an apprentice. Through various placements he was able to gain valuable practical engineering skills and kickstart an interesting career. Dan then became a Manufacturing Engineer, where he worked with industry experts on leading-edge turbine technologies. He also earned his degree in Mechanical Engineering during this time. He took charge of Tooling Design, Product Definition and Casting technical process ownership. After this, he moved on to become a Development Engineer working on Civil Large Engines. It was an exciting role where he tested new technologies, supported engine tests, and got stuck into the nitty-gritty side of Engineering by conducting failure analysis.

Dan had always dreamed of travelling the world, but his job kept him tied to a factory and a desk. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Dan was given the opportunity to work remotely for a year. He was able to hike on most days, and explored almost every corner of his local national park, the Peak District. In the hopes of maintaining this newfound work-life balance when the time came to return to the office, Dan and his partner Emily bought a Mercedes Sprinter and got to work on converting it into a camper.

The van had been previously used as a window fitters van and had led a very hard life; it was covered in dents, a little rust, and had quite a lot of holes in the floor. The conversion started on the exterior, fixing the most obvious problems such as the paintwork and any holes first. Then, the task moved on to designing a cosy and comfortable interior where everything was built from scratch.

They didn’t wait until the van was finished to enjoy it. During the build, Dan and his partner regularly took the van out on short trips across the UK to learn what worked well and make any necessary adjustments as they went along. He knew at the top of a freezing cold fell in the Lake District that a heater was a must-have item, and both being keen cooks they learnt that they needed a fairly large fridge in order to keep fresh supplies for several days!

After hundreds of hours working on the van, mostly on weekends, and thousands more hours researching, the end result was a unique van that had everything they needed inside. From a projector and an upgraded sound system, to the composting toilet, everything on board the van was exactly as they needed it to be. The bike storage tray that allows them to carry mountain bikes under the bed is probably Dan’s favourite feature!

Since leaving home in 2022 Dan, has visited 14 countries all over Europe, travelling as far north as the tip of Denmark, and as far south as the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Dan and Emily spend most of their time hiking, but the mountain bikes and rollerblades in the garage often come out too. It’s hard to pick one, but perhaps Dan’s favourite country so far has been Greece where the wild camping is incredible, and he was able to spend a week volunteering at a Dog Shelter in the mountains.

Travelling in my van whilst working at Nohma gives me the freedom to explore new places, try amazing new foods, and experience many different cultures.

Being close to nature and spending time outdoors in the wild is important to me so I appreciate being able to work from anywhere at anytime, as long as I can find a reliable internet connection.

Helping other van builders with the technical side of their builds is super fulfilling and I love seeing the beautiful vans and electrical systems that our customers can create with our help!

Dan Spencer, Off-Grid Engineer

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