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Oct. 1, 2020 | Thursday
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Rene Bertschi seamlessly blends engineering and art
Rene Bertschi pulls out recently finished Lake Report stands from his 3D printer. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

There’s an art to engineering and Rene Bertschi has been exhibiting that art for years.

Local certified drone pilot and aerial photographer, and retired engineer and 3D printing aficionado, Bertschi demonstrates how engineering, photography and art can blend seamlessly together.

Bertschi, originally from Switzerland, says he has always been interested in bringing his designs to life. He spent most of his career as an engineer for a vacuum manufacturing company, where he says he derived pleasure from seeing a product take shape, from concept to design to a final finished product.

He eventually ran his own manufacturing compny, Gammaflux Europe, which he sold off his shares for in 2012 when he retired and decided to move to NOTL.

Throughout his years in manufacturing he witnessed first-hand the change from metal moulding to plastic in the industry, he says.

“I was the first when they switched from metal to plastic. That’s how I got into plastic,” Bertschi says.

So, it was only fitting he would fall into the 3D printing world when he discovered what could be done with the technology. He says he loved that he could create simple and complex items by taking his designs and adapting them for creation.

He first got a taste for 3D printing through the NOTL Public Library when a demonstration was held. After that he says he was hooked. He bought his own used machine so he could experiment more from home.

“The fun is in watching the design come to life.”

Now, Bertschi says he enjoys showing the magic of 3D printing to his grandson, Griffin, who he says lights up at the idea of creating toys and objects in his basement.

"He just loves it. He wants to draw things, and he wants to create things, and then we print it for him. So it's an education in two ways – a senior man and a young upcoming maybe engineer," Bertschi says.

Aside from creating anything he can dream up from scratch through 3D printing, he also takes his engineering skills and artistic eye to the sky. As a licensed drone pilot, Bertschi has started an aerial photography business, Skyview Arts. It’s just one more way he blends his engineering background with art for a rewarding and fulfilling hobby, he says.

He called the company Skyview Arts, because he says there’s an art to the images he captures.

“To see things from above, it’s not looking into people’s backyards. But it’s looking at a different view. It’s art, it’s photography. To see things on street level, it’s always the same, everyone can take a picture of that. But to see things from above – it gives it that three-dimensional look,” he says.

That’s what attracted him to aerial photography. He also just really liked playing with the drones, he says.

“I started flying drones even before I left Germany with the first little prototypes and things like that. And then progressed to bigger and bigger and bigger drones,” he says.

Now, he flies his own high-end drone and captures stunning images for himself, for local businesses and as a volunteer for the many organizations in town he’s involved with.

Bertschi says he started volunteering when he moved to town in 2012.

“I joined the board of the Friends of Fort George for a few years. That was a start. Then we went to the Shaw. I volunteered with the Shaw guild, taking photos. They needed volunteers for the Communities in Bloom, I volunteered for the Canada 150. Volunteered for the tall ships,” Bertschi says.

He finds a sense of satisfaction bringing his own expertise and experiences to town, he says, adding that it’s one of the incredible things about residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“There’s an exceptional amount of professionalism: lawyers, doctors, physicists, you name it. Engineers, bankers. And they’ve all travelled, and that’s what’s interesting. They all come out and they all volunteer. They all have something to contribute to this area,” he says.

He says he wouldn’t have met many of the people he has since moving to town if he wasn’t out volunteering.

“Getting to know people. You meet a lot of people when you go out and volunteer,” he says.

He’s not just willing, he’s eager to assist whoever he can through his vast experience and knowledge. Bertschi has printed small newspaper stands for The Lake Report, designing and redesigning prototypes until he settled on a perfect model. Above and beyond that, he assisted with the Falling into the Lake project and documentary, providing aerial footage and images of Niagara Shores Park and much of the erosion along the shore.

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