Graduating is not only for students

Three Faculty of Engineering lecturers recently earned their doctorates in their respective fields.

The trio graduated from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and are now looking forward to supervising doctoral candidates of their own.

While the Simpeh brothers, Eric and Frederick, chose to study at NMMU because that was where supervisors in their fields of study were available, Dr Sweta Patnaik finished her PhD in Textile Science at the Port Elizabeth-based university because she was living there when she started studying.

India-born Patnaik moved to PE with a diploma in Fashion Management and a BTech in Textiles and started a Masters in Textile Design at NMMU, before moving on to a PhD.

She took up a lecturing post in CPUT’s Department of Clothing & Textile Technology two years ago, while pregnant with her son and trying to get her daughter acclimatised to a new school:

“We were relocating, I was on the verge of finishing my PhD and I had to undergo this process of becoming a lecturer.

“On top of all that I had book chapters and publications in journals to attend to,” Patnaik remembers.

Her thesis took the form of the creation of a database of 400 imported or existing local South African woollen and woollen blend fabrics.


DOCTOR: Sweta Patnaik on her graduation day.

She tested the fabrics using quality system FAST (Fabric Assurance by Simple Testing) at PE’s CSIR laboratories and populated the database with information such as the quality, thickness and weight of the fabric to create a reference system for local buyers, retailers and/or clothing manufacturers.

Dr Eric Simpeh lectures quantity surveying to first year students in the Department of Construction Management and Quantity Surveying.

He started as a full time lecturer in 2013, after finishing his Masters in Construction Management and a BTech in Quantity Surveying. He registered for his PhD the next year.

Eric chose to study his DPhil in Construction Management at NMMU because that supervisor is considered one of the best in his field and his thesis was on the adoption of green buildings in South Africa.

“When I was in the process of obtaining my PhD I was supervising some honours degree students at NMMU and I had at the back of my mind that in future I will be supervising PhD students regardless of whether in the Western Cape or outside,” Eric pointed out.

According to his research the adoption of energy and water efficient buildings in South Africa is picking up the pace, however the country still needs to do a lot of education around the issue of green buildings to ensure the market grows even faster.

Eric and Frederick obtained their DPhil in Construction Management at the same time because while Frederick registered for his PhD at the beginning of 2015, he finished in 3 years.

Frederick lectures facility management, maintenance management and strategic management to BTech students.

While Frederick originally got a certificate in teaching in Accra, Ghana, he followed his brother to CPUT to study Construction Management, eventually graduating both his BTech and Masters at CPUT cum laude.

He started lecturing part time at CPUT soon after obtaining his Masters and chose to do his doctoral thesis at NMMU because he needed a promoter/supervisor in the field of Facilities Management and he got the quickest response from the NMMU professor.

His thesis topic was on the Prioritisation of spaces and services in on-campus student housing facilities in Southern Ghana.

Written by Theresa Smith

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