School of Engineering


Celebrating Student Innovation

Celebrating Student Innovation

On 24 October, members of the KwaZulu-Natal branch of the South African Institute of Agricultural Engineers (SAIAE) as well as SAIAE Council members, UKZN Bioresources Engineering staff, parents and friends of the final-year Agricultural Engineering students at UKZN gathered for the annual general meeting (AGM) of the SAIAE KwaZulu-Natal branch and the presentation of the final-year design projects.

The event, held in the Rabie Saunders Building on UKZN’s Agriculture campus, celebrated final-year student’s hard work on their design projects. The top two student design teams presented their work and guests had the opportunity to hear about all eight designs from student teams, who had prepared posters.

Projects done comprised the design, construction and evaluation of: a small-scale sorghum thresher; a machine to increase bulk density of plastic bottles; a recirculating greywater treatment system; a fluidyne pump; a small-scale milk pasteuriser; a system to measure tractor engine performance; a small-scale biomass-thermal single-effect evaporator; a beer-chiller and a modular fermenter for a home brewery.

SAIAE President Mr Pieter de Witt presented Mr Richard Upton and Ms Sarah Pickford with the award for the best final-year design project, which was a recirculating greywater treatment system. The duo also received a prize from MBB Consulting Engineers.

SAIAE branch meetings present a platform for up-and-coming Agricultural Engineers to get to know the industry and to network with other Agricultural Engineers. The KwaZulu-Natal branch’s 2018 activities included induction of new student members, which involved telling students about working as an Agricultural Engineer and what to expect during their studies. One 2018 meeting comprised a field visit to the Prilla Mill cotton processing facility in Pietermaritzburg.

During the AGM, Dr Alaika Kassim, the Chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal SAIAE branch, presented tokens of appreciation to Ms Boeboe Neethling and Mr Alain Marechal for their service to the branch.

Students who achieved the top place in their year of study in 2017 also received prizes from SAIAE. For 2017, Ms Perm Mthethwa was the best first-year student, Mr Sizwe Mkonta was the best second-year student, Ms Sarah Pickford was the best third-year student, and Mr Steven Cossa received the award and SAIAE bronze medal for best final-year student. Ms Zamangwane Dubazana received the Gedore award for best workshop student in 2018.

Mr Johannes Grobler from ZZ2 received a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the company, which has been a long-time supporter of the final-year design projects. Mr Pranesh Moodley of MBB Consulting Engineers also accepted a certificate of appreciation in recognition of MBB’s support of the projects. Mr Alasdair Harris accepted a certificate of appreciation on behalf of Tongaat Hulett for their generous sponsorship. A certificate of appreciation was handed out to Gedore, who sponsored the prize for the best workshop student.

Professor Jeff Smithers thanked guests for attending and congratulated all the teams for their hard work. He especially thanked sponsors of the design projects, members of the Agricultural Engineering Industry Advisory Board and SAIAE Council members for their attendance. Tongaat Hulett, ZZ2, MBB and Gedore sponsored the SAIAE AGM and final year design student presentations evening.

Words and photograph: Christine Cuénod