New appointees aim to enhance Faculty’s reputation

[Article by Daniel Bugon]

The Faculty of Engineering recently welcomed a host of new staff members who are eager to use their talents and knowledge to ensure that the Faculty remains one of South Africa’s major producers of top-quality engineers.

The Faculty has long been the number one choice for academics drawn to its dynamic and stimulating environment and the strong support it offers for research projects.

The eight new staff members joined the Faculty on 1 August 2021.

Prof Prathieka Naidoo aims to bring her 17 years of experience as an academic to her position as professor in the Department of Process Engineering.

“The first year is daunting for a young student in engineering, and it’s a tough four-year degree. However, with good support, mentorship and guidance, I have been successful in attracting many students, especially female students into postgraduate studies,” says Naidoo.

She says there are curriculum changes proposed in Process Engineering, and engineering programmes must adapt to this transforming environment.

“I am looking forward to working on this, along with a more multidisciplinary approach to teaching and research.”

Dr Emmanuel Dufourq hopes to share his passion for machine learning, especially in the areas of evolutionary computation and neural networks, with his students as the new lecturer in the Department of Industrial Engineering.

“I hope that I will be able to inspire students via research projects in important areas such as climate change science, and I also look forward to broadening my collaborative network by pursuing joint research projects with staff,” says Dufourq.

Dr Elaine Goosen, appointed lecturer in the Department of Civil Engineering, brings her background in road and stormwater design within the civil engineering industry to her position.

“A significant portion of my experience was obtained during the upgrade of a portion of the N7 between Algeria and Clanwilliam. Site experience was formative in my decision to remain in the civil engineering profession, and I believe makes me a more effective lecturer,” says Goosen.

Her field of research centres on bitumen performance and numerical optimisation.

New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP) junior lecturer appointee in the Department of Mechanical & Mechatronic Engineering Mr Matthew Meas hopes to be curious, diligent, and enthusiastic in carrying out his duties.

“These are contagious qualities and it’s rewarding to see them reciprocated by colleagues and students. I hope to contribute to the academic and personal development of our students during their time at our department,” says Meas, who takes inspiration from the confidence that his family, teachers, and colleagues have placed in him.

Mr Shival Indermun is the new junior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical & Mechatronic Engineering whose research aspirations are aimed at enhancing the integration between robots and healthcare.

“With my research I am hoping to promote the application of robotics in South Africa, and change the perspective of robots being a replacement to being an aid,” says Indermun.

As a lecturer, Indermun hopes to encourage a culture of continuous learning among students. “Being curious while taking the initiative, will not only result in better students but also better engineers,” says the University of Witwatersrand alumnus.

Ms Taneha Hans was also appointed as junior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical & Mechatronic Engineering.

Ms Macyln Chingwena, who took up the position of junior lecturer in the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering (E&E), completed both undergraduate and master’s degrees at Stellenbosch University.

“Having the privilege now of being part of the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering as a junior lecturer, gives me the opportunity to share the knowledge that I have acquired over my years of study. I’m excited about the chance to profoundly impact the lives of the students I interact with by giving them advice on the importance of hard work, time management, communication and being passionate about what one is studying,” says Chingwena.

Dr Armand du Plessis, who fulfills the role of lecturer in the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, says he has many aspirations.

“I hope to establish a research lab where we get to focus on machine learning and electronics (hardware development). I really want to focus on having a strong outflow of the research and development done at E&E into the commercial engineering sector. The possibilities are endless and I can’t wait to get started.”

Photograph: (from left to right, top to bottom): Prof Prathieka Naidoo, Dr Emmanuel Dufourq, Dr Elaine Goosen, Mr Matthew Meas, Mr Shival Indermun, Ms Taneha Hans, Ms Macyln Chingwena and Mr Armand du Plessis.