#UPGraduation2022: UP honours three cum laude master’s graduates for top-quality research in technology management

Posted on May 25, 2022

If South Africa invested in just one off-shore windfarm, it could generate enough electricity for almost half the African continent. And Sibusiso Nozakuzaku, who graduated with a Master’s in Project Management from the University of Pretoria (UP) on 20 May, has done a technical feasibility study proving why it’s worth pursuing windfarms as a solution to the country’s power blackouts.

Nozakuzaku graduated cum laude (with honours) from UP’s Graduate School of Technology Management (GSTM), one of four schools in its Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment & Information Technology. He is one of three technology master’s students, alongside Henk van den Heever and Franco Barnard, that UP has honoured with an award for outstanding research.

The trio’s research counted toward half the marks of their degrees. It comprised what is regarded as a mini-dissertation of 80 to 100 pages, a journal article or conference presentation of about 7 000 words, and a paper on their research, which they presented at the GSTM Masters Research Symposium in November 2021. Van den Heever presented his article at the INCOSE South Africa 15th Annual Symposium in September 2021 and won the Best Paper award.  

Nozakuzaku, Van den Heever and Barnard went through a rigorous process to be selected as the top research students. Three students in each GSTM master’s programme were shortlisted, after which 14 study leaders from the symposium did a second evaluation of their research.

Nozakuzaku was judged the best in the Project Management master’s programme, Van den Heever in Engineering Management, and Barnard in Technology and Innovation Management.

Professor Elma van der Lingen, Head of the GSTM’s Department of Engineering and Technology Management, congratulated the three winners at the online award ceremony on 21 April. They presented their 20-minute symposium presentations at the event, which was followed by a short question-and-answer session.

UP master’s graduates Sibusiso Nozakuzaku, Henk van den Heever and Franco Barnard.

From left to right: UP master’s graduates Sibusiso Nozakuzaku, Henk van den Heever and Franco Barnard.

Nozakuzaku’s study used four previously pinpointed offshore sites to identify criteria that could play a role in the feasibility of developing them, such as wind speed, plus the influence of weather on this speed, sea depth, shipping traffic, transmission distance, installation area, and the influence of tropical cyclones.

He sent out 23 questionnaires to experts in the field, including engineers manufacturing turbines, those working on offshore windfarms in the UK, and project engineers involved with renewable energy, to rank the criteria by importance.

His research, supervised by Dr George Thopil, showed offshore windfarms to be feasible in South Africa primarily because of the high wind speeds, “basically the resource itself”, he said. This is also their potential flaw, as the strong winds require such powerful turbines that it ups the expense considerably.

But Nozakuzaku, who told Prof van der Lingen he wants to be “a renewable energy guru in the mining industry”, is undeterred in his mission. He is looking for someone to test the financial feasibility of offshore windfarms because his research showed the cost “pays itself off”, he said.

"This is not the end. In 2008, when I saw load-shedding coming in, I told myself I have to find a solution,” said Nozakuzaku who, ironically for an electrical engineer who works as an engineering unit manager at Sibanye-Stillwater mine in Carletonville in Gauteng, spent a large part of his formative years in nearby Bekkersdal without access to electricity.

Van den Heever, who works as a senior control engineer at Sasol in Secunda,  Mpumalanga, did his research on the ‘Application of Cognitive Work Analysis to Early Stage Requirements Analysis for Complex Sociotechnical Systems”’, supervised by Dr Rudolph Oosthuizen

On a practical level, his study aimed to assess the impact of new technology introduction on the work domain of a process operator. One case study involved a tablet as replacement for the traditional keyboard-and-mouse interface. His research revealed how this added value to the business by allowing for a new general function plus two technical functions that his focus group of engineers had not envisaged.

Van den Heever is proof that top achievers are not always successful from the get-go. He first dropped out of university after two and a half years, then worked in IT and got married. He credits the support of his wife with helping him graduate cum laude with a BEng in Computer and Electronic Engineering.

“I am very detail-oriented. This research allowed me a lot of insight into the bigger-picture things that I would typically miss,” he said.

Prof van der Lingen supervised Barnard’s research, which she said was “excellent” and made him a pleasure to work with. Barnard, who is an enterprise sales executive at Siemens Industries Digital Software, did his study on “The adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) in South Africa”.  

Barnard set out to identify, and then rank, the factors that influence the slow adoption of software as a service. Surveying 30 experts from industry and academia, his study revealed the top five factors affecting this adoption were trust, relative advantage, security risk, complexity, and reliability. His research took a fresh approach because it did not test new hypotheses but applied existing theories in a descriptive study.

Read more #UPGraduation2022 stories

Published by Hlengiwe Mnguni

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