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The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Postgraduate student, Nelson Mdlolo was awarded the Best Paper co-authored with DUT’s Senior Lecturer and Head of Department of Industrial Engineering, Dr Oludolapo Akanni Olanrewaju, at the recent 2020 online Southern African Institute of Industrial Engineering (SAIIE) 31 Conference. 

The SAIIE31 is a peer reviewed Industrial Engineering conference, South African based with both local and international recognition. It brought together the finest thinkers, doers, dreamers and learners in the field of industrial engineering to reimagine making things both better and differently. The conference consisted of thought-provoking presentations, engaging and challenging conversations on how to protect and revive the planet.  

Dr Olanrewaju’s research interests are not limited to energy/greenhouse gas analysis/management, life cycle assessment, application of artificial intelligence techniques and 3D Modelling. He is an associate member of the SAIIE and National Research Foundation (NRF) rated researcher in South Africa. 

 Speaking of his thoughts when he had found out that both he and Mdlolo had won the Best Paper at the 2020 SAIIE31 conference, Dr Olanrewaju expressed his excitement. 

“I was happy for Nelson Mdlolo as he deserved it for all the efforts he put in together with following every instruction I gave him,” he said. 

For Dr Olanrewaju, it is his first time writing a paper with his student, Mdlolo. “My first experience with SAIIE was through their journal (DHET Accredited) where I have a paper published in 2019,” he said. 

For Mdlolo, who is presently admitted for his Doctor of Engineering (DEng) programme, said it was his first time at such a conference, and at first, he thought it was a joke, but accepted it after sometime as he had also been sent a confirmation certificate that has both their names with Dr Olanrewaju’s. 

The title of the award-winning paper presented at the conference is: Minimizing energy consumption in a cement manufacturing: South African case study

Explaining more on the study, Dr Olanrewaju said: “It gives an overview of how we can reduce the cost of electricity in cement production and still achieve quality products. The TOWS Matrix – Threat, Opportunities, Weakness and Strength Matrix on the processes involved in cement production, savings and reduction in electricity consumption were achieved,” he said. 

Explaining the objective of the study, Mdlolo said the goal is to develop and generate a high cost reduction in product development/process. He further said that he had embarked on such a study because there is a gap in innovation of multiple strategy to improve lives of South Africans. “More importantly I wish to contribute to the country’s economy by engaging on energy sustainability. In life people rely on previous experiences therefore information sharing is very important,” he said. 

As a Doctor of Engineering student, Mdlolo also relayed that he will continue with the findings from his Masters study and broaden it further as it has a lot of information that can be shared with others. “Energy is important to everyone and a lot depends on its sustainability,” he said. 

In terms of his other goals to accomplish in his academic studies, Mdlolo indicated that he wants to achieve a suitable environment to conduct research and teach other young people the importance of research.  

 His advice to other students in his faculty who want to continue their studies in such a topic of research is to remain focused. 

“Every household needs electricity, therefore it is important to improve the industrial energy to live better. They must be patient with their studies and remain focused to succeed. They must be willing to share information with other people regardless of incentives,” he said. 

Dr Olanrewaju also expressed that the best way to nurture such student academic understanding and growth is to show by example. 

“I had the best paper in Energy track in an international conference in Czech 2019, and that can only be appreciated if such is followed by another and hopefully continues. Its’ about dedication to what you do and longing to get the best out of it. That applies to our responsibilities as teachers as well. It’s not about clocking the time at classrooms but giving our best to bring out the best from our students and colleagues,” he said.

He further relayed that it is beneficial to have such academic partnerships, not just for the students but for DUT itself. 

“Students are recognised for their efforts which is a motivation to do more and even better. The same accolade goes to DUT in terms of recognition and showcases the university in the academic world to recruit the best brains in the world longing to be associated with DUT’s success,” he said. 

Pictured: Nelson Mdlolo 

Pictured: Dr Oludolapo Akanni Olanrewaju 

Waheeda Peters

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