College of Science, Engineering & Technology

And the Science Oscar goes to…

At a gala event held on 21 July, Unisa’s Prof Wellington Thwala received the coveted NSTF-South 32 Engineering Research Capacity Development Award for his impressive work in the area of sustainable construction management, digitalisation, design error containment and leadership within the built environment. He is a is a research professor at the Department of Civil Engineering in Unisa’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology.

Annually, the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) partners with mining and metals company South32 to honour and celebrate outstanding contributions to science, engineering and technology (SET) and innovation at the NSTF-South32 Awards, informally referred to as South Africa’s "Science Oscars". The NSTF-South32 Awards have grown to be the largest and most prestigious public SET and innovation awards in South Africa.

Unisa's Prof Wellington Thwala receiving the NSTF-South32 Engineering Research Capacity Development Award from the Honourable Buti Manamela, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation (Image credit: NSTF YouTube channel)

This year’s theme was "Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development". The category in which Thwala won recognises individuals or teams who have trained and guided significant numbers of diverse postgraduate students to the completion of both master’s and doctoral studies in engineering fields at South African universities.

Click here to view a recording of the awards ceremony.

Thwala’s work started as a response to the challenges that are still facing South Africa and the developing world with its high levels of unemployment and poverty. His research focus is in the area of sustainable construction management, digitalisation, design errors containment, cost overruns and leadership in the built environment. His research in the last five to ten years has demonstrated how design error containment and prevention through digitalisation in the built environment can improve infrastructure projects performance in order to minimise project cost overruns in mega infrastructure projects. His research has moreover led to improved physical, economic and social infrastructure delivery for the benefit of South Africa at large.

Thanking Unisa in his acceptance speech, Thwala singled out the outstanding support received from senior management. He also thanked the National Research Foundation for funding research and students at the university. 

* By Philip van der Merwe, Editor, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2022/07/22