DST Women in Science Fellow graduates from CoMSIRU

17 Jul 2014 - 13:30
Lombe Mutale celebrating her graduation

.Staff members in the Concrete Materials & Structural Integrity Research Unit (CoMSIRU) have been extremely busy over the past 12 months. They have graduated 21 postgraduate students and supervised 25 final-year undergraduate thesis projects.

Last year CoMSIRU introduced a new master’s degree in Civil Infrastructure Management & Maintenance which will produce graduates with the much- needed skills for the African continent’s infrastructure development plans. The National Development Plan lists infrastructure as one of its priorities and, according to the World Bank, the continent’s infrastructure deficit is considered one of the most significant barriers to sustaining Africa’s growth.         

In June, Lombe Mutale, who received a 2012 DST Women in Science fellowship, graduated from CoMSIRU with her master’s degree. Her final thesis topic was “An investigation into the relationship between surface concrete resistivity and chloride conductivity test”. The research was a comparison of two of the tests used to predict the durability of concrete in South African and abroad.

Lombe joined the Department of Civil Engineering in 2009 as a transferring undergraduate student from the University of Namibia. She says that her journey through UCT was not easy, but she managed to get through, thanks to supportive family and friends, and a stubborn belief that she would make it, sometimes despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Lombe says she got support from CoMSIRU fellow students and lecturers, who became her family at UCT.

Lombe is working at NWE Consulting Engineers in Bellville, where she hopes to gain enough experience to become a professional engineer. She wants to contribute to the construction industry in southern Africa and hopes to start her own company later in life.