Anneke’s PhD has practical value for industry

“I never considered engineering as a career until the Faculty of Engineering’s student recruiter, August Engelbrecht, visited my school in Worcester. When he talked about electronic engineering, I thought this sounds amazing,” says Anneke Stofberg. Now, after 11 years of being a Matie engineering student, she will receive her PhD in Electronic Engineering at the December 2018 graduation ceremony in Stellenbosch.

“I grew up on a farm with no previous exposure to engineering,” Anneke continues. “From a young age I was interested in hardware and practical things. I liked to take our cell phones at home apart to see what’s inside and to discover how everything works. Therefore, when August mentioned electronic engineering, this discipline immediately felt like the perfect fit for me.”

Anneke obtained her BEng (Electrical & Electronic) in 2011 and immediately enrolled for a master’s degree. “Prof Johann de Swardt was my final-year project supervisor. He encouraged me to carry on with a master’s, which I did. After my master’s, I felt there was still a lot of things I did not know in my field and Prof De Swardt once again suggested that I continue with a PhD. I was fortunate to obtain a bursary from Reutech Radar Systems. Prof De Swardt and Prof PW van der Walt were co-supervisors for both my master’s and PhD studies. They were really wonderful!” she exclaims.

“Everything has worked out so well for me. I have now been appointed as an RF design engineer at Reutech in Techno Park, Stellenbosch. I enjoy it here. I really like my work as it is closely related to my field of research.”

After completing her PhD, she now has more time to relax. She loves water sports, such as swimming, scuba diving and water skiing. She and her boyfriend plan to take up sailing and dream of a sailing trip around the world one day.

Anneke concludes: “I was a student for 11 years. This is the beginning of a whole new life. At the moment, I am just thankful that everything has worked out so well for me. I can now use and apply the knowledge I obtained during my studies.”

Prof De Swardt has a lot of praise for his student: “Anneke is one of those ideal students. She is interested in her field and works very hard. Her PhD has practical value for industry. It makes it so much more rewarding to see how somebody with a BEng degree grows to become a well-rounded engineer who can tackle and solve a difficult problem.”

Title of Thesis:  Phase tracking electronically variable attenuators with receiver protection.

100-word summary:

Multi-channel digital beamforming radar receivers use receiver protectors to both protect against damaging signals and give controlled attenuation over time to prevent receiver saturation. In this study a set of phase tracking electronically variable attenuators with receiver protection was developed for such systems.

Sensitivity analysis was used to compare different electronically variable attenuators and a cascade parallel quarter-wave attenuator was identified as having optimal phase tracking over control range. A planar limiter was developed for receiver protection and its power handling ability was characterised through a high-power measurement technique that extracted the PIN diode’s minimum attainable resistance.


Anneke Stofberg at her new workplace.