Class of 1964 celebrates close relationship cherished over six decades

“Engineering students – support each other and keep in contact!” said Martin Petrick at the 55-year reunion breakfast of the Stellenbosch Mechanical Engineering Class of 1964 held at Devonvale on 29 February 2020. Six members of this group and their spouses celebrated their group’s close relationship cherished over six decades.

Mr Petrick continued: “We have known each other for more than 55 years. After graduating, we split far and wide and entered a variety of positions. During our university and professional careers, we supported each other and kept in contact. As a group we met 17 times. I want to encourage current Maties Engineering students to do the same. Even though today’s classes are very large, do make an effort to support each other and keep in contact.”

Sampie Viljoen, another member of the group, added: “In our careers we did not have to be afraid of any new or unknown challenge, as the foundation we received during or training at Stellenbosch enabled us to take on anything. Although we are old and grey, and some walk with walking sticks, we are extremely proud of the Faculty of Engineering and share the Faculty’s dreams.”

Prof Kristiaan Schreve, Chair of the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, gave the group some background regarding the Faculty’s current position:

  • Student numbers have doubled the past 10 years.
  • There are approximately 3 000 undergraduate and 900 postgraduate Engineering students.
  • About 500 students receive a BEng degree each year.
  • In December 2019 the Faculty awarded 30 PhD degrees.
  • There are several new academic programmes at the Faculty. A new specialisation, BEng (Electrical & Electronic) in Data Engineering, kicked off in February 2020.
  • There is great concern for the decrease in the number of learners doing Mathematics at Matric level. The pool from which the Faculty can draw students is shrinking rapidly.
  • Personnel numbers and diversity of personnel have increased over the years.
  • The Engineering Campus Renewal Project to the value of R750 million spans from 2016 to 2026.
  • Renovation and densification of the Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering building is almost completed.
  • The Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering has been able to attract and appoint several experienced and outstanding engineers from industry.

Prof Schreve listed the importance of ECSA accreditation of BEng programmes and growth in postgraduate student numbers and research funding as three important aspects for the Faculty.

After the presentation the six very special alumni paid a visit to the Faculty to view the demonstrations of their home department during the Stellenbosch University Open Day.

Main photograph: Back from the left are Danie Theron, Prof Kristiaan Scheve and Gerard Marais.

Front from the left are Neil Möller, Sampie Viljoen, Rooies Loedolff and Martin Petrick.