The KZN branch of Cement & Concrete SA (CCSA) has launched a “Careers in Concrete” initiative in which two University of KZN civil engineering students will be awarded experiential work opportunities at concrete-related enterprises in the province.
The selected students will be given the opportunity of gaining hands-on experience during university vacations at the Durban operations of Contest and Naidu Consulting. Contest, established in 1984, is a leading KZN service provider in concrete testing and technology, while Naidu Consulting is a respected national consulting engineering firm established in 1999.
Kevin Volmink, chairperson of the CCSA KZN branch, said the branch was planning to establish a Student Chapter of CCSA at the University of KZN to organise concrete events for BSc Civil Engineering students and stimulate interest in concrete-related careers.
Speaking at the online launch of “Careers in Concrete”, Dr Moses Kiliswa, senior lecturer at the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of KZN, said the concrete industry offered diverse career opportunities for qualified civil engineers who would inevitably have to deal with concrete issues throughout their careers. “It has become important, however, to acquire specialist skills in fields such as concrete research, durability, rehabilitation, and design, as this would boost your status in the industry and could make you a sought-after specialist consultant,” he told the dozens of students who attended the event.
Kerusha Ayer, from Naidu Consulting, summarised some of the wide-ranging concrete projects the company was currently involved in, including conducting tests to determine remedial measures for deteriorating bridge structures in KZN. “The tests include establishing compressive strength, durability, thickness of concrete cover, chloride profiling, and carbonisation. We have found that carbonisation was a major factor in the deterioration of the concrete bridges. As consulting engineers, we then must decide on the appropriate repair methods. This is typical of the important infrastructural preservation role you will perform in a career in concrete,” Ayer told the students.
Donovan Leach, of Contest, said concrete testing was another vital aspect of civil engineering and offered enormous career opportunities. “This is why Contest offered internship for a selected student. Contest is, for example, currently involved in concrete testing for collapsed structures for the Department of Labour among other projects affecting the national economy,” Leach stated, urging students to join organisations such as CCSA, to make full use of networking to boost their careers.
Salome Naicker, SANRAL project manager in KZN, cautioned the civil engineering students that the first five years of employment after graduation were likely to determine their individual specialised fields. “So, it is important that you weigh up all the options before joining your first employer,” she stated, before outlining some of the major road-building and rehabilitation projects SANRAL was now handling throughout South Africa to further illustrate the importance of careers in concrete.
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