The People Behind the Product: Insights from Head Engineer Kerry McCollum

Before joining Donovan Group, Kerry McCollum worked on engineering projects in the USA, Australia, and many areas around the world. With a mind for detail and engineering excellence, Kerry supported the DonoBrace team in developing the high capacity tension-only rod bracing system.


We had a chat with Kerry about what it’s like to work as the Head Engineer for Donovan Group, and what DonoBrace can offer to engineers in the industry. 


What is your engineering background? 

I started off as a structural steel detailer, handling drawings for manufacturing workshops. Then I went and worked directly for structural engineers, where the focus was on multi-storey buildings and convention centres.  

Following that, I finished my engineering degree and started working with larger projects internationally. I ended up helping with detail drawings for Disney Concert Hall in L.A, and had the extraordinary opportunity to work with Franco Gary. After that experience, I came out with a much deeper understanding of the industry, including learning the technology around 3D modelling.  

After several structural engineer positions around the world, I began working at Donovan Group as the lead engineer.  At Donovan Group, there is a constant challenge to find better ways to make buildings safer and easier to design, manufacture, and construct. I’ve been here for over twelve years now, and I think that drive has made it one of the most rewarding and engaging jobs of my career.  


What was your role in developing DonoBrace? 

As the primary engineer, I was directly involved with the development of DonoBrace. 

We wanted a product that was more robust, but also lightweight. High efficiency, and very strong. What we wanted to develop was a system quite different to existing bracing products, so we just said, let’s start from the beginning, build something better from scratch. 

We saw an opportunity to utilise the waste material from our metal buildings factory, and turn it into a useful resource. The material was very high quality steel that would otherwise have been sent to the recyclers, so this was our opportunity to repurpose it. A spark came when one of the engineers thought to put two plates together – and that was really the inception of DonoBrace. 


As an engineer, what were your primary concerns with developing a new bracing system? 

Compliance is the biggest issue. You need to make sure that the product you’re creating is reliable – that it meets every safety requirement and performs to code. Assurance is crucial that the product is low-risk, and a structural engineer can feel confident signing off a drawing that uses DonoBrace. 

We were also looking at making this system work better for high load environments. We wanted it not just to have better efficiency, but also to perform better. So, we tested it – for everything. We put it under all kinds of conditions and made sure that we fully understood the properties and capacities of the product.  

I get questions all the time from high level PhD engineers who want to know every detail, and what continues to amaze me, is just how simple the answers are. Every facet of the product is known, tested, and understood, which leaves very little room for uncertainty.  


How would you describe the DonoBrace system? 

DonoBrace is elegant in its simplicity.  

It’s not a complex idea. It’s not a complex system to specify or fabricate or install. But that’s what makes it significant – because most other bracing systems are complex.  

I have a lot of pride in DonoBrace, because it’s not just an engineering product. It’s a culmination of great customer service, useability, and material efficiency.  

From development to design to installation, DonoBrace streamlines the process, just making bracing simpler for everyone. 


How is DonoBrace simpler for structural engineers, specifically? 

What the team has created is a very comprehensive specification for DonoBrace. That means that we have a bracing system with tested, assured capacities, and specifications for how to install and fabricate the product. 

What that allows engineers to do is take that document and incorporate it into their designs without having to do all of that hard work. The wheel has already been invented for you – you just have to put it on the carriage. 

One of the things that Donovan always tries to do is automate to make things easier. It means you can produce more work in less time, and you save a few headaches along the way. 


What kind of changes have you noticed in Donovan Group since joining the team? 

In my twelve years at Donovan Group, I’ve seen an impressive number of very clever people gravitate towards this company. 

We’ve got PhDs and engineers in-house, and highly experienced people in every branch of the business. It’s really been amazing to see. 

I think developing new innovations like DonoBrace has pushed us further – and smart people are attracted to that. And once they’re here, they help make even more clever innovations. My role for a lot of the projects now is helping clever people shine.   

I’m really proud of my part in developing DonoBrace and helping make the product what it is today. 


DonoBrace is a high capacity tension-only rod bracing system that offers a standardised solution for structural engineers, fabricators and installers.  

To learn more about DonoBrace from an engineering perspective, get in touch today and have a chat with our expert team. 

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