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Catching up with two young fore-runners of the engineering industry

Mpho Ramphao

28 October 2011 - In today’s increasingly fast-paced business environment, the skills, abilities and commitment of a company’s workforce are a real competitive advantage.

Aurecon encourages its emerging professionals to take ownership of their career path and ambitions, while providing advanced learning opportunities to support them in achieving their goals. Confirming this, Mlu Mabaso, Aurecon’s Human Capital Leader, Africa – Middle East, comments: “Annually, Aurecon South Africa invests some R16m in training, as well as significant time and effort into a home-grown mentorship programme.”

Two of the group’s successful young engineers have demonstrated that this type of investment can have significant paybacks. Both Mpho Ramphao and Tumelo Thothela were honoured by industry recently for their commitment to growth within their careers, and also within the communities that their industries impact.

Mpho Ramphao

Mpho Ramphao, a young engineer in Aurecon’s Cape Town office, specialises in the water and wastewater field, with special focus on optimisation of wastewater treatment facilities. In collaboration with internationally acclaimed researchers, he has authored and co-authored seven technical papers and has presented numerous papers at conferences.

His selfless commitment to the betterment of others was displayed in his tutoring of matric mathematics and science at his high school in rural Polokwane. Since 2010, he has also been an external examiner for the fourth-year civil engineering wastewater course at the University of Cape Town. He also serves on the Board of SAILI, a non-governmental organisation that identifies promising scholars in the Western Cape, places them in better schools and provides other support and opportunities to nurture their potential.

Mpho believes that engineers should use their profession to better the lives of citizens. “Engineers have an obligation to meet the basic needs of all humans for water, sanitation, food, health, and energy, as well as to protect cultural and natural diversity. Improving the lives of the five billion people whose main concern is staying alive each day is no longer an option; it is an obligation,” he comments.

Mpho was recently appointed as Consulting Engineers South Africa's Young Engineer of the Year for 2011. As part of this award, he will have the opportunity to attend the FIDIC Convention in Davos, Switzerland from 2-5 October 2011 and will serve on CESA’s Young Professionals Forum (YPF) for the coming year. This prestigious award confirms that Mpho is an excellent example to young engineers in South Africa.

Tumelo ThothelaTumelo Thothela

The theme of the Conference on Asphalt Pavements for Southern Africa (CAPSA) 2011 was ‘Roads of the Future’. Deliberations at this event saw attendees attach huge importance as producers and users of bituminous products to advancing sustainable practice - after all, there are 69 million km of roads in the world with roads in urban areas covering roughly 20% of all land. 

One of Aurecon’s young engineers, Tumelo Thothela, presented a paper at this event. Tumelo’s paper, Improving the durability of seal aggregate by precoating, revolved around the durability requirements applied to surface seal aggregates on roads. More specifically, his paper focused on the increasing scarcity of high quality rock and aggregates, as well as the heightened pressure on the construction industry to seek more environmentally friendly alternatives, which has brought to the forefront the need to question the relevance of durability requirements being applied to surface seal aggregates. This theme tied in with the conference’s overall theme of “living with the carrying capacity of our planet”.

Amongst many well-recognised professionals, Tumelo’s paper won the award for the best technical paper contribution by a newcomer at the annual 10th Conference on Asphalt Pavements for Southern Africa (CAPSA), which was held in KwaZulu-Natal in September this year.

The breadth and depth of technical expertise at Aurecon is second to none, with young engineers who join Aurecon also joining world class professionals from more than 40 different disciplines working collaboratively across the company in knowledge sharing groups. “We are very proud of young professionals like Mpho and Tumelo. They are the future of our industry, and judging by their achievements, we are in good hands,” concludes Mabaso.

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