Wits University and Golder Collaborate to Train Engineering Students in South Africa

Following on Golder’s local investment in 2018 towards the establishment of an advanced tailings laboratory in Johannesburg, a student training programme was initiated between Wits University and Golder to provide students with learning opportunities and promote better collaboration between academia and the industry.

Wits University (Wits) an internationally distinguished institution recognized for its excellent research and  high academic standards in Johannesburg, South Africa,  is considered a leading regional institution on the African continent.

The main objective of this initiative was to mentor two undergraduate Wits students in Golder’s tailings laboratory in advanced testing, particularly in critical state line determination. The training programme also provided students with the practical skills and background knowledge to complete their final year Investigational Projects.

Expanding capability through experience

The five week training programme started by providing the students with an overall understanding of geotechnical laboratory testing, with a focus on critical state line triaxial testing on tailings, how to approach triaxial testing and the different factors affecting the results. The in-lab training also included verifying and calibrating testing equipment to provide reliable and accurate results, as well as conducting and interpreting laboratory tests.

By learning how to ask the right questions when setting up an experimental programme, the students gained invaluable insights regarding how to select the equipment required for the experiments and the outcome. Furthermore, the training programme also fostered a ”pay-it-forward” culture since the students who completed the five weeks training programme chose project partners and taught them in return.

The first two students who completed the training were enthusiastic about their experience at Golder:

  • “The value I’ve gained at Golder’s lab does not only fall under the realm of knowledge; I’ve also learned a fresh and adaptive method of thinking. I feel that Golder’s lab offers a different level of safety and in its own way is making the world we live in safer for people and the natural environment. I have been given a head start on the research I will be conducting for our investigational project.” – Naqeeb Emeran, Wits student.
  •  “The experience that I had at the Golder lab is one that has swayed me into considering a career in geotechnical engineering. The knowledge that was passed on during the training was very precious and will help steer our final year investigational project in the right direction.” – Phetole Rasetelo, Wits student.

What’s next?

This collaboration between Wits and Golder highlights the importance of teamwork as a critical factor when finding solutions in our challenging world. The South Africa team at Golder hope this initiative will spark similar programmes throughout South Africa, giving bright students and young engineers the opportunity to develop into future leaders.

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