He is back home - meet the new Dean in the Faculty of Engineering

Prof Johannes van der Walt, joined NUST earlier this year, as the head of the Faculty of Engineering. Having worked across different institutions globally, he has decades of experience in the engineering public and private sectors. His qualifications include a Bachelor of Engineering, Masters in Engineering: Mechanical Engineering (University of Pretoria); and a Doctorate in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering (University of the Witwatersrand). He recently answered a couple of questions for The Tech.

Q: What is your area of expertise?

A: My career so far has been a broad and interesting one. My areas of specific expertise are thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, aerodynamics, process modelling and process design and natural gas combustion.
After working at Atlas Aircraft, I was appointed Associate Professor at North- West University in South Africa. From there I moved to Melbourne, Australia, as Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Swinburne University of Technology. After 15 years in academia, I was lured back to industry and I had a short stay at Rio Tinto Aluminium before I joined my most recent employer – Gasco Pty Ltd, a company in the oilandgasindustrywhereIwasthePrincipal Thermal and Process Design Engineer. Now I am back in academia, and back in my homeland.

Q: What brought you back to Namibia?

A: I have been looking for an opportunity to come back for quite some time. I spent 25 years overseas and while it was great seeing the world and experiencing life in a few other countries, there is just something about being in your own country.

Q: What lessons do you think Namibia can learn from Australia, if any?

A: I think it is quite difficult to draw comparisons between Namibia and Australia as they have very different histories and backgrounds.
However, tertiary education in Australia has become one of the largest industries in that country, even larger than tourism.
In Namibia, tourism is a very significant industry, creating many job opportunities and resulting in large sums of foreign revenue flowing into our country. However, tertiary education also has the potential to follow suit and this is an area that can be explored.

Q: As the new head of the Faculty, what are some of the areas you will be focusing on right away,to contribute to the growth of Namibia’s engineering sector?

A: Right from the start, the engineering staff was quite open about possible areas of improvement. Some of the most critical issues are recruiting more staff, scaling-up on industry engagement, renovating some of our laboratory facilities.
Moreover, as a Faculty, we need to continue seeking ways to deal with the inadequate quality of Maths and Science of learners coming from secondary schools. Lastly, we need to enhance our efforts in coordinating our research foci on areas critical to Namibia’sspecificneeds.

Date: 
Friday, March 6, 2020
for Month: 
March, 2020

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