Expert in Advanced Manufacturing joins Industrial Engineering

The Department of Industrial Engineering is thrilled to have an eminent expert in Advanced Manufacturing on its team. Prof Natasha Sacks, who joined the Department of Industrial Engineering in October last year, is the first women to be appointed a full professor in this department. Before moving to Stellenbosch, she worked at the University of the Witwatersrand for 15 years.

“I am not an industrial engineer, but did my undergrad and master’s in Materials Engineering at UCT, followed by a Dr.Ing at Germany’s Friedrich – Alexander University Erlangen – Nürnberg,” she explains.

“I have a passion for teaching young people and enjoy the interaction with students as well as helping them on their career path. I teach Manufacturing Systems to third-year students. On the research front, I am the group leader for the Advanced Manufacturing Research Group.”

The research group concentrates on the development of resource efficient process chains and frameworks for sustainable and smart manufacturing of products through digital, economically-sound process chains which minimise negative environmental impacts, while conserving energy and natural resources as well as empowering industry. There are two main technical focus areas, namely Additive and Subtractive Manufacturing, which are used to manufacture customised products, prototypes and novel materials for several industries including medical, aerospace, manufacturing and mining.

Prof Sacks has an impressive track record. She serves as the Focus Area Coordinator of the Carbides & Cermets research group within the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Strong Materials (since 2008). She is an Editorial Board Member for the International Journal of Refractory Metals and Hard Materials. She is a Member of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the South African Institute of Tribology and serves on review panels for both the NRF and ASSAF. She has served three times as a member of the Technical Program Committee and Session Chairperson for the International Conference on Tungsten, Refractory and Hard Materials held every four years in the USA and will serve again in 2020. She also served three times on the Scientific Committee and as Session Chairperson for the International Conference on the Science of Hard Materials held every four years at various international locations and was an adjudicator for the annual UNESCO/L’Oreal for Women in Science Fellowships for Sub-Saharan Africa from 2009 to 2016.

Prof Sacks now has the opportunity to start a totally new life in Stellenbosch. “I love the outdoors, nature, the mountains and vineyards!” she exclaims. “That was a huge drawing card when I had to make the big decision whether to uproot my life and move to Stellenbosch.

“I have to establish a new life and make new connections and friends. Being an outdoor person, I love hiking and participate in Park Runs (although I walk). I am also learning more about wine apart from simply drinking it and enjoy various cultural activities. I’m looking forward to everything that Stellenbosch has to offer.”

On a lighter note, she concludes: “People complain about the traffic in Stellenbosch. They don’t know about the real traffic in Johannesburg!”

Photograph: Prof Natasha Sacks.