SAICE  held the second National Investigative Project Showdown for South African universities’ civil engineering departments on 19 February 2016, at the PPS Indaba Centre in Parktown, Johannesburg.  The competition brought together the crème de la crème of South Africa’s civil engineering students. Finalists battled it out for a grand cash prize and a postgraduate bursary worth R20 000. They arrived from the University of Johannesburg, the University of the Witwatersrand, University of Cape Town, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Stellenbosch and the University of Pretoria.

The civil engineering university research and investigation project (IP) is part of the national curriculum for final year civil engineering undergraduate students. Students are paired in teams of two and are required to select an issue, which is current in the industry. They do research in accordance with pre-set deliverables over a fixed period, leading up to the final year examinations. Once all the research and investigations on the specific issue is complete, the student teams present their findings to a panel of judges, comprising of both selected industry leaders and non-engineers. The presentations are then adjudicated based on a set of agreed criteria to determine the winner.

The project titles presented were:

Iksha Singh (UKZN) – The carbon footprint analysis of various construction materials and implications on building design: A comparative case study on Hotel Verde

Li Bonne Swart (UP) – Modelling and Monitoring Pore Pressures in a Tailings Dam under Construction

Tino Muzofa (Stellenbosch University) – Alternative connection systems for concrete wall to floor slab systems

Christopher Gaszynski (UCT) – Impact of food waste discharge to sewer on waste water treatment plants

Mpiana Erick Biselela  (UJ) – Slope Stability Analysis of Potential failure of a Landfill Site

Tatenda Katsumbe and Mfundo Nkosi (Wits) – StormWater Characteristics of Green-roofs

The presentations showed an evolution of mind-set, action and intent to make a difference in areas as diverse as carbon footprint, pore pressures intailings dams under construction, and stormwater characteristics of Green-roofs. Each and every young presenter provided a unique perspective on their chosen topic. For this reason the adjudicators had a very difficult task. They were Jonathan Shamrock from Jones & Wagener, Kevin Pillay from Mott MacDonald, Debbie Besseling of iDube Media and Marcia Maidi, a structural engineer.

The adjudicators were impressed by the incredibly high level of technical aptitude demonstrated by the participants – saying that it made it extremely difficult for them to choose the top three.  “The top three scores were literally decimals apart,” remarked adjudicator Jonathan Shamrock.

The winners were:

Iksha Singh (UKZN) who came first, won the Vital Engineering R10 000 + PPS Postgraduate Bursary worth R20 000.

Tino Muzofa (University of Stellenbosch) came second and won the DPI Plastics prize of R 6000.

In the third spot was Christopher Gaszynski (UCT) winning the Robor prize of R3000.

These presentations showed that South Africa’s civil engineering future is truly in competent hands!

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