SU’s Faculty of Engineering attracts some of SA’s top matriculants 

SU's Faculty of Engineering attracts some of SA's top matriculants 

Among South Africa’s top-performing matriculants of 2023, many have opted to start their engineering endeavours at Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Faculty of Engineering.

These learners, hailing from diverse backgrounds across South Africa, achieved over 80% in their National Senior Certificate (NSC) and Independent Examinations Board (IEB) examinations. Their high schools are classified into five groups, called quintiles, for the allocation of financial resources (quintile 5 being the most resourced and quintile 1 being the least resourced).

Here, we asked what motivated them to attend SU and to share some of their mottos.

Eastern Cape

Kungawakhe Kabingesi (quintile 3 high school) says he enjoys calculating and solving problems. He decided to pursue Mechatronic Engineering as it’s a field that merges his interests seamlessly. The Faculty’s renowned reputation made it an obvious choice for him. His motto reflects his forward-thinking: “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”

Free State

Cara Stevens (quintile 5 high school) says she always wanted to study at SU, even before she knew exactly what. I finally chose to study Mechatronic Engineering, as I wish to pursue a career in renewable energy, and I feel that this degree would give me the perfect foundation. The incredible Engineering Faculty and student culture have only been a bonus to the opportunity to study here,” she explains her decision. Her motto for the year, “Aut viam inveniam aut faciam” (I shall find a way, or I shall make a way), represents her determination to carve her path to success.


Judd Symanowitz, who wrote the IEB exam and enrolled in Chemical Engineering, believes engineering is an industry in which he can make a difference and help people in a meaningful way. “I believe Stellenbosch is considered one of, if not the best, engineering universities in the country and the culture at Stellenbosch is one that I enjoy being a part of.” He encourages his peers to try their best to achieve their dreams.


Ziyanda Samkelisiwe (quintile 4 high school) says SU was always one of her top choices because of its academic excellence and the thriving social environment within its campus. “Mechatronic Engineering is cutting-edge and studying it at SU will give me the necessary skills and knowledge and enhance my creativity and imagination.” Her words of encouragement to fellow students are to work hard and smart. “Never give up, because today’s suffering is nothing compared to tomorrow’s joy.”

Azokhula Mukelwe (quintile 2 high school) applied for Mechanical Engineering as he is drawn to developing practical solutions to real-world problems and wants to contribute to technological advancements in the field. He encourages his peers to strive for excellence and innovation.


Solly Tukushe (quintile 4 high school) decided to study at SU, which is known for its reputable engineering degrees. “The University offers a comprehensive curriculum and state-of-the-art facilities, which can provide students with a solid foundation in electrical and electronic engineering principles. Stellenbosch also offers a vibrant student life and a supportive community,” he explains his decision. He advises fellow students to “not wish for it but work for it” and “a calm sea doesn’t bear a skilled sailor.”

North West

Tshukudu Tshegofatso (quintile 3 high school) applied at SU because it’s known to be one of the top universities in the country. I want to pursue a BEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering because I’ve always been curious how things worked, especially electronics.” His motto reflects his belief that hard work pays off and that enthusiasm is fuelled by inspiration and dedication.

Northern Cape

Anell Maasdorp (quintile 5 high school) grew up with intriguing stories about her father’s days as a MatieConsidering a degree in engineering was inevitable for me as I have always been good at mathematics, physics, engineering graphics and design (EGD).” After attending SU’s Winter Week programme, she decided to pursue Mechanical Engineering. Her late grandpa’s wisdom will serve as her guiding light during her undergraduate studies: “Keep working hard and studying; your knowledge is the only thing no one can take away from you.”

Western Cape

Melissa Muller (quintile 5 high school), the top matriculant in the country, grew up in Stellenbosch and dreamed of becoming a Matie one day. Her passion for maths, science and problem-solving led her to Mechatronic Engineering, driven by its interdisciplinary nature. She’s a firm believer in balance. “Knowing when to study and when to take a break was the key to my success in high school, and I hope to carry this through to university.”

Lilly Hobbs (quintile 5 high school) says SU was always her first choice to continue her tertiary studies due to its excellent facilities and vibrant student life. Although her decision to study Mechatronic Engineering wasn’t straightforward, she knew she had made the right choice after the first week of class. Her motto is taken from a movie: “I will not give up on myself. I will not give up on my dreams.”

Jared Benn (quintile 5 high school) attended the Engineering Winter Week in 2021, making his decision to study here evident. With a passion for renewable energy and a belief in the transformative power of hard work, he believes a degree in Chemical Engineering will enable him to achieve his future goals. His motto is always to strive to do the best in absolutely everything that he does. “No matter how mundane the task might be, I always try to put my all into it, as I believe that working hard leads to long-term satisfaction and growth.”

The three matriculants from the Western Cape also received Rector’s Awards for Excellent Achievement at a formal event that celebrates the outstanding accomplishments of students in academics and co-curricular fields. As these students embark on their journey at SU, they serve as inspirations not only to their peers but to all aspiring engineers across the country. We wish them all the best of luck.

Photo: (from left to right) Jared Benn, Solly Tukushe, Ziyanda Samkelisiwe, Tshukudu Tshegofatso, Kungawakhe Kabingesi, Prof Wikus van Niekerk (Dean: Faculty of Engineering), Prof Celeste Viljoen (Vice-dean: Teaching and Learning) Judd Symanowitz, Cara Stevens, Anell Maasdorp, Melissa Muller and Lilly Hobbs.
(Azokhula Mukelwe was not present when the group photo was taken.)

[Article by Amber Viviers]