VUT STUDENTS SCOOP THIRD POSITION AT PRESTIGIOUS INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING COMPETITION
By Qhawekazi Memani 27 October 2022
Three Vaal University of Technology (VUT) ‘s Industrial Engineering students, Thato Phiri, Ofentse Kgwadi and Goodness Sekoati, recently won the third position at the South African Institute of Industrial Engineering (SAIIE) competition.
The competition ran over a few weeks, and the students were expected to present under the theme: “Solving the problem of plastic bottle lids that reach our beaches and oceans.”
Furthermore, the different teams had to invent a solution to the problem and had to analyse the problem and develop Industrial Engineering solutions through a PowerPoint, Video or Poster presentation. The criteria outlined by the organisers was based on usefulness, creativity, complexity, feasibility, and time/resource constraints.
Speaking about the competition and how they performed, the trio said teamwork as aspiring engineering professionals is critical and always results in a great performance. “We were able to come up with a solution that had the potential to reduce the amount of pollution caused by plastic bottles (lids). Plastic pollution is very dangerous for us humans and extremely hazardous to sea wildlife. Plastic is used often because of its reliability and affordability. However, when it is poorly disposed of, it is bound to cause pollution, which may also incur land and water damage over many years,” they said, adding that poor waste management is causing harm to our land.
Ofentse emphasised that nothing new can be invented to combat the current problems we have in our country; however, the existing technology can be improved to accommodate the era we live in. “Technology alone cannot win the plastic pollution, and even people should also help to eliminate the problem of plastic pollution,” she added.
On the other hand, Thato said that he learnt how pollution affects sea life at the competition and how to solve/minimise pollution with the aid of their innovative imagined earth vending machine. “I learnt the importance of recycling and not polluting. It is saddening how much sea life dies each year due to pollution,” he said
Sharing her key takeaway from this competition, Goodness said it enabled her to think outside the box, and that competition is a good thing, “it permits us to do our best, “she said. “The competition allowed me to network with experienced and professional industrial engineers, and we got a chance to demonstrate our skills and knowledge,” she added. She concluded that they also learnt how to apply industrial engineering techniques; how to eliminate waste of time, material energy and other commodities; thus, making the world safer through better-designed products, and lastly, how to reduce the cost associated with new technologies.”
Commenting on the student’s participation in the competition, Therese Van Wyk (Senior Lecturer/Discipline Coordinator: Industrial Engineering) said she is very proud of these students for taking the initiative to enter this competition and getting the third prize just made her more so. “We have such talented students in Industrial Engineering, and it is about time they show their worth to the outside world. Ofentse Kwgadi, one of the 3rd place winners, initiated the establishment of an SAIIE student chapter at VUT in 2023. Students from all levels will be encouraged to join the chapter from their first year of study. This will expose our students to many fun and educational activities with students from other universities. As Discipline Coordinator for Industrial Engineering, I will do my best to assist the students in this endeavour and encourage students and staff to participate,” she concluded.