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Unisa School of Engineering staff members, SAIIE and SAIMechE members, and the students who received the awards

Unisa’s Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering is recognising the excellence of its students. The top BTech and NDip students, two from each programme, were identified and acknowledged at an award-giving ceremony on 23 April 2018 at the Science Campus. The Southern African Institute for Industrial Engineering(SAIIE) and the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineering (SAIMechE) sponsored the prizes.

Other students were also given certificates from Unisa for their performance. This was in appreciation of their hard work and dedication and also to motivate students who are only starting on their qualifications.

The stories of the winners are inspiring. Three of them told myUnisa about their Unisa journeys.

Prof. Kemlall Ramdass (Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering) handing over the award to John Rohlandt

John Rohlandt

NDip: Industrial Engineering

The stories of all great achievements start with a struggle. That is why we appreciate every success. I am a firm believer that achievements are not a matter of luck, but a journey of hard work and effort.

I do not come from a wealthy background, so at times life was difficult and to support myself financially as a young adult was not always easy. At the time of commencing with my studies I was newlywed and had to think of my future and that of my wife. Often, I had to ask for help from family members to get by.

My Unisa journey started in 2012, when I was employed as a trainee manager. I worked long hours, Monday to Sunday, and attending to alarm call outs at night—up to three callouts per night—without compensation, and I was required to work a full day the following day. This gave me the motivation to change my life. The memories of trying to study and complete assignments at 3 am in the morning will always be a reminder of my hard work, dedication, and persistence in pursuing my studies.

Applying at Unisa to study Industrial Engineering by correspondence was my way out of a life that seemed destined for failure. Although he was unable to assist me financially, I remember my dad speaking of his hopes of his son becoming an engineer and his guidance during my years as a student for a career in Engineering. The correspondence route was the only path I could follow and Unisa gave me that opportunity. Unisa has changed so many lives. I respect and admire any individual following this route as I know how difficult the journey is.

I would like to thank my wife for all the support she gave me throughout this journey. She stayed by my side through all the hard times and struggles, never losing faith in me. I want to thank my dad for showing his constant support and trying to assist me in every way possible. I want to thank dad and mom (my wife’s parents, Grant and Lee) for assisting and supporting me through my times of struggle. I also want to thank Aunty Elizabeth for helping me this year and making it possible for me to pursue my BTech degree. Lastly, I want to thank my late grandparents for raising me to become the man I am today.

Prof. Kemlall Ramdass (Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering) handing over the award to Nikita Baleeram

Nikita Baleeram

BTech: Industrial Engineering

I commenced with my tertiary education in 2010 at the Durban University of Technology. I was a full-time student, who dedicated all of my time to my studies. I completed my National Diploma in Industrial Engineering in 2013. My professional career started in 2012, at Bell Equipment, where I was employed as a Trainee Industrial Engineer. Upon completion of my In-service Training, I was permanently employed as a Process Engineer.

I only commenced with my BTech in 2016, as my focus shifted to my challenging yet equally enjoyable job. I decided to study through Unisa because it is an institution that accommodates the working class individual, by providing quality service to their students via the correspondence/distance education platform. My journey since then has been immensely value-adding to both the development of my professional and academic career. Unisa has given me the opportunity to focus on my work and studies, and perform exceptionally well in both aspects.

I have successfully completed my BTech: Industrial Engineering degree in 2017 and I am currently employed as a Supplier Development Manager at Gibela Rail. I recently received recognition for being the best student by SAIIE. I am deeply honoured by this award, however, it would have been difficult to achieve it without the constant and excellent service delivery and support received from my lecturers. I express my utmost gratitude to my lecturers, the institution, and to SAIIE for the award.

I look forward to continuing my journey at Unisa, as I plan to start studying towards a BCom degree in Supply Chain and Operations Management this year. I am confident that my future journey will be as great as the one I have just completed.

SAIIE representative handing over the award to Jarrod Powell

Jarrod Powell

BTech: Mechanical Engineering

Growing up, I have always been surrounded by engineering, working on a milling machine whilst my dad worked on his lathe during my school holidays. It was at this time I developed a passion for understanding how things work and making them better.

I wasn’t fortunate enough to have my family send me to university after school so I took a student loan and studied Computer-Aided Design. After graduating in 2010, I was employed as a junior draughtsman and started my engineering career. I enjoyed conveying engineer’s ideas into manufacturing drawings and watching them be developed into working components in an assembly.

It wasn’t until June 2012 when I decided to better myself and enrol at Unisa for a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering. My journey with Unisa was good and fruitful, to say the least. Not only does Unisa give you the materials to better your knowledge but the institution helps one develop quality characteristics such as prioritising tasks, managing them and executing them timeously. These skills are well sort after in the working world. Unisa has also invested large sums of money to improve practical facilities at the Science Campus, with top-of-the-range equipment for students to better understand engineering processes and applications.

After completing my National Diploma, I enrolled to complete my BTech. Again, a fruitful journey. Unisa has invested time to establish a syllabus that is easy to comprehend but also to push the capabilities and analytical skills of the student.

Today I work as a project/design engineer focused on the research & development of hydro-powered mining equipment. Unisa has gifted me with the resources to achieve my dreams of being an engineer and contributing to our society.

*B* By Neo Kgaphola

Publish date: 2018/05/17