The Faculty of Engineering celebrated its 75-year of existence with a Gala Dinner on 29 March 2019. Over 200 alumni, Faculty personnel, University management, industry partners and VIP guests commemorated this exceptional milestone in a festive atmosphere at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West.
In his address, Prof Wikus van Niekerk, Dean: Engineering, made special mention of two guests: Mrs Blanca Malherbe, aged 88, the daughter of the first Dean of the Faculty, Prof Harry Reitz, and Mr Flip Conradie who was a first-year student in 1944, the year Engineering became a fully-fledged faculty. Four former Deans, Profs Christo Viljoen, PW van der Walt, Arnold Schoonwinkel and Hansie Knoetze were also present.
Mr Pieter Uys, Chair of the Advisory Board, and also an Engineering alumnus, congratulated the Faculty on the quality of engineering graduates it has been producing for more than seven decades.
The Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, also congratulated the Faculty and praised its achievements. He said: “Engineers are prime examples of so-called ‘public-good professionals’ – graduates who have a positive impact on society through the work they do. And though the years, Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Engineering has made a huge contribution to the public good in exactly this way, producing not only many industry leaders, but also salt-of-the-earth engineers who have helped to build South Africa.
He continued: “The Faculty of Engineering has always been future focused with cutting-edge research. Who can forget the impact the Faculty made with Sunsat, the first satellite developed and built in Africa. This microsatellite was launched in 1999, and was followed in 2009 by another microsatellite, SumbandilaSat, and a nanosatellite ZA-AeroSat, in 2017. The Faculty of Engineering truly makes us proud with some of the highest research outputs at the University – not only in established fields but also in new fields, such as renewable energy, biomedical engineering, smart transport and health systems engineering.”
Regarding sustainability, Prof De Villiers noted: “The fact that the Faculty is able to capitalise on its intellectual property bodes well for the future. It is financially stable and in a solid position as an entity at the University – thanks in no small measure to self-generated income, which is quite substantial. This Faculty brings in more income from contracts, services and donations than it earns from student fees, which takes some doing – and provides security for the future.”
The Rector concluded: “With the calibre of students, lecturers, researchers, support staff, industry partners and collaborators that the Faculty of Engineering has, it can look forward to a bright future.”
From the left: Former Deans Profs Christo Viljoen, PW van der Walt, Arnold Schoonwinkel and Hansie Knoetze, and the current Dean, Prof Wikus van Niekerk. The décor of the evening reflected the University’s maroon and the Faculty’s old gold colour beautifully and in true Matie spirit, Stellenbosch University’s award-winning Die Laan wines were served.
Anton Jordaan (SCPS).