Twin sisters receive Engineering Degrees

Posted on April 28, 2010

Talia, whose average over four years, was a fraction of a percent better than her sister’s, received the Vice-Chancellor and Principal’s medal for the best student in the Faculty of Engineering - the first ever female engineering student to take the honours.

Apart from the Vice-Chancellor’s medal, Talia also received the Medal of the Engineering Council of South Africa for the most outstanding achievement in the final year in the School of Engineering, the BKS-DW De Vos Medal for the student with the best achievement in the final year of study in Civil Engineering, the Stewart Scott International Prize for the most innovative research project in the fourth year of study in Civil Engineering, the South African Institute for Steel Construction Prize for the best

student in Steel Design in Civil Engineering and the ITS-Prize for the best student in Transportation Planning in Civil Engineering.

According to Talia and Tercia, who matriculated from Stanford Lake College in Haenertsburg, they have shared the same interests for as long as they can remember and it was therefore not surprising that both ended up studying civil engineering.

They describe themselves as “practical and hands-on” and it was the idea of being involved in the planning and erection of buildings and structures that initially drew them to civil engineering.

However, says Tercia, once they started their studies, they became fascinated by the fact that engineering “challenged them to apply their minds”.

According to Talia they are both blessed with natural academic abilities and did not have to work much harder than their fellow students. Although they are both extremely competitive, they also support each other and are equally proud of the other’s achievements.

Apart from their academic abilities, they also attribute their success to the fact that their parents, Victor and Maria, never forced them into doing anything, but rather encouraged them to find and pursue their passion. In addition, they were dedicated students and made sure that they attended all their classes.

Talia and Tercia agree that they are not yet ready to further their studies, but for the time being are rather focussing on getting practical experiencing before deciding what branch of engineering they want to pursue. At present both are interested in geotechnical engineering which focuses on soils and foundations.

Talia currently works in the Waste and Tailing Department at Jones and Wagener Consulting Engineering in Johannesburg, while Tercia works in the Geotech Department at BKS Consulting Engineers in Pretoria.

Although the sisters share the same interests, they describe their personalities are completely different. The biggest difference, says Talia, is the fact that she is more “girly” than Tercia.

Talia and Tercia are not the only brainy ones in the family. Younger brother, Dario, is currently a third-year civil engineering student and according to the sisters is doing extremely well!

When they are not working or studying, they like to spend time outdoors undertaking all kinds of adventurous activities or travelling.

According to Prof Elsabé Kearsley, Head of the Department of Civil Engineering, she is extremely proud of Talia and Tercia. They both maintained high academic levels throughout their four years of study, she said.

The class of 2009 was an exceptional group, she added. The top five students were all women and all completed their degrees cum laude.

According to Prof Kearsley women are increasingly entering the engineering field. Currently between 20 and 25% of all undergraduate civil engineering students at the UP are women.

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