IDC- Online News

  1. Student Story: Gaston Kausa

    Gaston Kausa is an Engineering Institute of Technology graduate from Zambia who earned his 52724WA - Advanced Diploma in Civil and Structural Engineering. He felt an instant connection to engineering when in high school he was introduced to the technical drawing subject.

    “I fell in love with the subject,” he said. “From then on, my mind was made up that my career was going to be in the engineering industry.

    What followed was a lifetime of acquiring skills and qualifications to validate his love for engineering and transform him into the professional he is today. Today, he is a member of the Engineering Institute of Zambia.

    Gaston’s working life began with a job as a surveyor at Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines in 1985.

    Throughout his career, he has worked as Chief Surveyor at many infrastructure projects in Zambia and Namibia.

    Since 1990, he has worked on a total of 15 separate projects filling roles such as land survey assistant, surveyor (sometimes being the senior on-site), chief draughtsman, chief surveyor, site manager, sub-contractor, and project surveyor.

    He has operated as a surveyor for key industries from Namibian and Zambian mines, to railways, main roadways, parking lots, and bridge projects.

    He recently chose to do the Advanced Diploma course through EIT because he had his eyes set on practising as a Civil Engineer.

    “As a surveyor, I have been working closely with civil engineers for a long time,” he said.

    “Over the years, I have acquired a lot of civil engineering knowledge through practical experience. This course enables me to practice as a civil engineer and utilize the knowledge I have acquired over the years. It has advanced my understanding of the best industry practice and enabled me to perform more complex tasks in design and construction.”

    He is currently working in the construction industry, employed as a surveyor engineer for consultancy services. In this role, he oversees the design, tender documentation, and supervision of the construction of the Kazungula Bridge Project.

    Upon completion, the bridge will form a 923-meter-long link between Kazungula in Zambia and Kasane in Botswana. It is to be completed in the last quarter of 2020.

    Adding to the arsenal of skills Gaston already possessed, studying through EIT further augmented his understanding of the civil engineering industry.

    Gaston had already amassed considerable geological draughting and mine surveying qualifications from the Zambia Institute of Technology and the Copperbelt University respectively between 1983 and 1998. In 2008, as automation really began creeping into industry, Gaston studied a certificate in AutoCAD at Intec College in Cape Town, South Africa.

    “Technological advancement has been the most fascinating development in the construction industry. From Computer-Aided Design software to drone technology, the industry has seen massive transformation in terms of efficiency and speed of delivery of projects.”

    While he would like to continue his education in the future, he is absolutely happy with the progress that he has made so far in his studies.

    “Things are looking bright. I am beginning to appreciate my job more and hope to be a practising civil engineer after registration with the relevant authorities. I expect a big leap in my career when I combine my vast experience with my new qualifications from my new qualification from EIT.”

    Gaston says that in five years, he would love to be in a more senior construction management role and be a construction industry expert that can implement successful end-to-end project management.

  2. Student Story: Fortune Chipeta

    Fortune Chipeta was born and raised in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. He earned his Advanced Diploma in Industrial Automation with the Engineering Institute of Technology between 2014 and 2015. The Advanced Diploma is now one of many qualifications Fortune has amassed across his engineering career.  

    Fortune loves the world of engineering, particularly in the electrical realm. However, he was quick to discover that automation was revolutionizing the industry he had always adored. He is now working towards that dream of being an engineer in the exact cross-section where electrical engineering and automation meet. He says:

    “I love making and implementing practical solutions to everyday problems and electricity and technology fascinates me.”

    After graduating from high school, he enrolled for a National Certificate in Electrical Power Engineering at Westgate Industrial Training College. A straight-A student in high school, Fortune passed the 3-year course with distinctions in 2004. During that time he was posted out for a one-year industrial attachment at Bulawayo Cold Storage Company. He says:

    “It was during this time working on the then state-of-the-art abattoir that I fell in love with industrial controls and electrical systems.”

    In 2005, Fortune enrolled for a full-time National Diploma in Electrical Power Engineering at Bulawayo Polytechnic College. It was there that he furthered his knowledge of industrial electronics, digital electronics and control systems.

    Fortune then made the move to live in South Africa, finding a job in the construction industry as an installation electrical on commercial building sites. He said:

    “This was a very enlightening period in my career as I totally deviated from my dream of a future in electrical, but I gained exposure in home automation systems. In 2009, I got an opportunity at a steel company as an industrial electrician and was back into an industrial environment”.

    Change of fortune

    Fortune had reached a crossroads. He was gaining practical knowledge but still wanted to future-proof his career. Suddenly, the answer became clear. He said:

    “In 2014 I heard of the Engineering Institute of Technology from a friend. It was a good solution to my hectic professional life. Naturally, I enrolled for the Advanced Diploma in Industrial Automation as that’s what I was passionate about”.

    Fortune is currently employed as an Industrial Electrician and Automation Technician. His daily responsibilities include factory maintenance and electrical projects. He assists and leads a 12 man team who provide solutions to any problems that may arise whilst perform the aforementioned tasks.

    As Fortune continues to work hard at furthering his career, he tries to display the best version of himself in the workplace so others can learn from him. He concluded:

    “After EIT, everything is much easier to understand now and solutions to challenges come effortlessly. Now my employers marvel at the ease with which my professional abilities have improved. I am definitely aiming to be the best there is in Industrial Automation and be able to inspire young industrial technicians.”

  3. How a sinking country is winning their war against water

    The Netherlands is a country well known for its intricate landscape of canals, tulip fields, windmills and cycling routes. But did you know that the country has been in a defiant war against water since the early 17th century?

    The Netherlands relationship with water is complicated, to say the least. Nearly a quarter of the country lies below sea level and another half sits less than a metre above, putting the country’s entire existence under constant attack from the elements. Consequently, the country has fallen victim to a number of serious floods over time.

    A defining landmark in the country’s history in the North Sea flood of 1953. After a heavy storm on the night of 31 January 1953, citizens of the Netherlands woke up to large areas of the country completely underwater. The devastating floods claimed 1,835 lives and forced the emergency evacuation of over 70,000 more. The total damage from the floods was estimated to be over 800 million dollars.

    The catastrophic flooding led to multiple in-depth government reviews of events and how they could be prevented, ultimately leading to the developed water defences the Netherlands possesses today. The country’s highly symbolic systems of windmills, canals, ditches, dikes, dams and dunes aren’t just for Instagram aesthetics or utility, but actually a fully-functioning security strategy against mother nature.

    One of the largest physical defences the country uses against rising water levels is a device called the Maeslantkering. This enormous piece of machinery is effectively a set of doors that blocks off the ocean when sea levels rise too high. Would you believe that this contraption is almost as long as the Eiffel Tower if it was laying on its side?

    Acting as the final piece of the Delta Works, a construction program started by the Dutch government after the catastrophic floods of 1953, the Maeslantkering automatically closes when threatened by floodwaters. It is one of the largest moving structures on Earth, rivalling the Green Bank Telescope in the United States and the Bagger 288 excavator in Germany.

    Whilst it sounds bleak, the pressure of the situation has put Dutch engineers at the top of their game. It’s no surprise that they are world leaders in flood protection, storm surge barriers and other water management technologies that are constantly emulated around the world.

    As the risk of climate change continues to increase and sea levels rise, the Netherlands future is increasingly uncertain however engineers are constantly working hard towards engineering innovative solutions such as parking garages that can serve as emergency reservoirs.

    The Netherlands’ flood defence network is robust and broadly supported. More than 300 institutions, organizations and boards work together to devise comprehensive plans, continually assessing their effectiveness and keeping residents informed of their progress.


    Works Cited

    Hall, Alexander. “The North Sea Flood of 1953.” Environment & Society Portal, Arcadia (2013), no. 5. Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society.

  4. Introducing the world’s first electric tugboat

    The new paradigm that exists in the modern engineering industry is the replacing of fossil fuel burning machinery with renewable, zero-emissions technologies. There is a growing public call for the re-engineering of automobiles, aircraft, trains and more, to power them in more renewable ways. Mechanical engineering and electrical engineering are coming together to ‘reinvent-the-wheel’ and design new technologies that produce zero emissions.

    New Zealand’s Ports of Auckland authority says that they will be debuting the world’s first all-electric tugboat. Ports of Auckland have been dedicated to finding alternatively powered vessels for quite some time. Tony Gibson, the chief executive officer of Ports of Auckland said in a press release:

    “In 2016 we set ourselves the goal of being zero-emission by 2040. We set this goal because we recognize that urgent action is needed on climate change, and we wanted to be part of the solution. However, setting the goal created a tough challenge. We have a lot of heavy equipment, like tugs, and in 2016 there were no zero-emission options.”

    The RSD-E Tug 2513 tugboat, unfortunately for Auckland Ports, was not available in 2016. However, Dutch shipbuilder Damen will be delivering their new tugboat to them in 2021. The tugboat will be just as powerful as the diesel tugboats that they have been using for years.


    Damen was already engineering tugboat diesel-electric hybrids that Auckland Ports were utilizing but encouraged the company to work on an all-electric version. Damen design and proposal engineer Tugs Marc Baken said:

    “We looked into the request and we saw that it was technically possible. The next step was to consider the feasibility of full electrical operation from a business perspective.”

    What they had to do was look to battery technologies. They looked to what batteries were already on the market. They purchased those batteries and tested them out on crafts to see if they could test the efficiencies compared to the diesel alternatives.

    They also found that the charging stations for the tugboats would be efficient. The tugboat will be utilizing a 1.5MW charger that will charge the tugboat up in only two hours. Seemingly, the technology is ready to deploy and could become a norm in the industry.

    Damen says the batteries are stringed together so that if one battery fails, the next battery picks up the heavy lifting. Two 1000kW generators are on-board as well in case an electrical failure occurs - or if the tugboat has to tow something that is significantly bigger than what it usually tows. Damen wants to ensure people their all-electric with generators fitted in case of emergency is not a hybrid - they are confident the batteries will be able to power the tugboat at the same output as a diesel vessel.

    Damen sales manager for the Asia Pacific region, Sjoerd de Bruin, said that the new tugboat will complete the green sustainability aims New Zealand has been aiming to achieve. He said:

    “The RSD-E Tug 2513 completes the cycle of sustainability, being not only clean on emissions, but also in its source of power. This is great news for the region and also for other ports around the world with green ambitions. Ports of Auckland have taken a bold step in pioneering the use of fully electric harbor tugs and it is an honor to work with them on this project. This aligns neatly with our mission of reforming the maritime industry. We are not only building a tug, we are using disruptive technology to help serve the energy transition.”

  5. Flying cars to be tested across the globe

    A future with flying cars might be closer than you think. On 5 August 2019, Japanese electronics firm NEC revealed their prototype for a giant drone, developed with their partner Cartivator.

    Their electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft weighs around 330 pounds and is equipped with four propellers. During a recent trial, the aircraft was able to lift itself 10 feet in the air and fly 65 feet before landing safely on the ground again. The whole trial lasted just less than a minute.

    Last year, the Japanese Government announced a country-wide initiative for companies to build eVTOLs with driverless capabilities. They have granted Cartivator permission for outdoor flights, and the company plans to start mass-producing these in 2026.

    Source: Associated Press

    Speaking to Bloomberg, leader of the project at NEC, Kouji Okada, said, “Japan is a densely populated country and that means flying cars could greatly alleviate the burden on road traffic.

    “We are positioning ourselves as an enabler for air mobility, providing location data and building communications infrastructure for flying cars.”

    Electric vehicles are essential, as they produce far fewer carbon emissions than regular cars.

    Japan is not the only country making headway with this technology.

    In June, Uber announced that test flights for their ridesharing service would begin in 2020. Melbourne Australia will be the first city outside the US to test the service, joining other pilot cities Dallas, Texas and Los Angeles, California.

    “Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology,” said Uber’s general manager for Australia, New Zealand, and North Asia, Susan Anderson.

    “This, coupled with Melbourne’s unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, make Melbourne the perfect third launch city for Uber Air. We will see other Australian cities following soon after.”

    They have also joined hands with a company named Jaunt Air Mobility to make the Uber Air dream a reality. The eVTOL resembles a helicopter which Uber Air is banking on to make their mobility plans possible.

    Uber Elevate Director of Engineering, Mark Moore, said in a press statement, “Jaunt Air Mobility has assembled a highly talented team of experienced engineers with a long history of designing and certifying eVTOL vehicles.

    Martin Peryea, Jaunt’s Chief Technology Officer, has led many helicopter development programs as a chief engineer and brings invaluable to developing low noise, reliable, and safe aircraft.

    “I look forward to seeing what our teams accomplish together as we aim to accelerate Jaunt’s commercialization efforts.”

    According to Inverse, there are now 120 eVTOL projects being tested worldwide. While there are still barriers to overcome, they predict limited commercial flights will be up and running within the next five-to-ten years.

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