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MEI Online: People News: Africa: April 22nd 2004


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:: Similar But Different: South African Students Slot Into Aussie Scholarship

Like a well-oiled machine, the JKMRC international traveling scholarship offered by the University of Queensland to chemical engineering students at the University of Cape Town has found a ‘smooth groove’.

Now having just completed its fourth year, the scholarship scheme is attracting some of the brightest engineering students, possibly in the world, to the JKMRC in Brisbane to undertake two-month’s vacation work over the December-January summer break each year. The scholarship is usually given to the best nomination from third year students at UCT’s Department of Chemical Engineering. For the second successive year, the adjudicators couldn’t split two UCT students Nomsa Yumba and Nick Smart, who both received the award and travelled together to Brisbane to undertake their assignments.

UCT chemical engineering students Nick Smart, left, and Nomsa Yumba, at the JKMRC in Brisbane take a break from their assignments as part of the JKMRC-UCT traveling scholarship scheme.


Nomsa’s interests lay primarily in comminution, a JKMRC specialist area. Her assignment at the JKMRC, set by Dr Toni Kojovic, was to study precisely cut core samples for breakage analysis using the new SAG mill comminution (SMC) test.

Toni Kojovic praised Nomsa for her practical approach to the task and how she had picked up the rock breakage concepts very quickly. Nomsa said the two-month scholarship to Australia was a great opportunity to get exposure to how research is done, with the view to perhaps working in this area with the sponsors of her UCT bursary, AngloGold. It was the first time Nomsa had traveled outside of South Africa, remarking that she was a bit surprised about the similarities between her home country and Australia.

Nomsa’s traveling companion and fellow UCT chemical engineering student, Nick Smart teamed up with JKMRC Principal Research Fellow Dr Peter Holtham to look at cyclones, and in particular a cyclone insert developed by Professor Dan Walsh from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. This was Nick’s first experience with a cyclone rig, although previous vacation work with his bursary sponsor AngloAmerican Base Metals, has given him working knowledge of flotation, spirals and also magnetic separation, the latter being at Nmakwa Sands near his home country of Namibia.

Although not sure what to expect on arriving in Brisbane, Nick said coming to the JKMRC had been a great experience: "I was given my own project which gave me the chance to take it as far I could within the time period, which you don’t always get on vacation work. Every work experience is useful, and coming to the JKMRC is good in that you get to work with high calibre people working on very interesting projects - and the JKMRC has quite a well-equipped lab that we wouldn’t normally have access to as third or fourth year students at UCT," Nick said.



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