Gerrit Botha is an engineering professional currently working in the automotive, brewing, and mass manufacturing industries. He is also an Engineering Institute of Technology graduate. Once he completes his current studies, he would have undertaken four courses with EIT.
He obtained his Professional Certificate of Competency in Allen Bradley Controllogix/Logix5000 PLC Platforms in May 2016. He followed that up with a Professional Certificate of Competency in Instrumentation, Automation and Process Control, in 2017. After that, he earned his 52677WA - Advanced Diploma in Remote Engineering, Mechatronics and Robotics in July 2017. He is now working through the 52708WA - Advanced Diploma in Industrial Automation.
Gerrit’s engineering career, while impressive looking — based on how many qualifications he has amassed — has been filled with ups and downs. His journey reveals how one can both be a student of engineering and life. His love for engineering stems from his childhood days.
“I have always been fascinated by how things work,” he said.
“Even when I was young, I was more intrigued by taking apart and investigating my radio controlled car than I was with actually playing with it. This curiosity just never left me and that’s why engineering was a natural choice.”
Further enhancing his love for engineering was spending time in his father’s engineering workshop. His father serviced the structural steel and earthmoving machinery market. One of the first artisanal skills Gerrit learned was the operating of milling machines and lathes. On weekends, he had a part-time job rewiring trucks and earthmoving machinery.
As a hobby, Gerrit busied himself with learning programming. He also had a knack for mechanical and electrical machine setups. He was a proverbial kid in a candy store when it came to exploring technologies. When the time came for him to decide what he was going to do in terms of tertiary studies, he chose mechatronics. However, his life then changed significantly.
“Unfortunately, at the beginning of my final year of school in 2012, my father passed away unexpectedly. This put heavy financial strains on our family as my father was the main provider. So, I decided to put the studies on hold in pursuit of employment to support my mother and our family financially”.
Employed... but ready for more
Gerrit managed to secure a job in construction engineering management in the petrochemical industry. There, he learned how to refurbish hazardous chemical vessels. He specifically became familiar with the Safety, Health, Environment, and Quality (SHEQ) engineering ideologies. During his time in that role, he formed part of 4 vessel projects and acquired numerous health and safety qualifications.
This allowed him to take care of himself and his family financially. He concluded that he should finally get back to his studies.
“Unfortunately, in this ever-innovating and expanding engineering discipline that is mechatronics, I could not go back to my old varsity as the curriculum had a substantial facelift. Nonetheless, with my busy lifestyle, I knew I needed to find a varsity that could offer me a program that is flexible and via correspondence. Finally, I came across EIT.”
To familiarize himself with the online method of study EIT presented him, he decided to do two short professional development courses. Soon he knew he wanted to continue. He was ready to pick up his mechatronics once more, and that’s when he enrolled in the Advanced Diploma in Remote Engineering, Mechatronics and Robotics.
Gerrit changed careers during his studies with EIT. He went to go and work in an environment where he could learn more about the world of PLC programming by fulfilling a role in the beverage brewing industry. He was soon promoted to a project engineer after only two months at the company — all thanks to his project management and leadership skills.
Twelve months later, he was the engineering manager of the company. He introduced some cost-saving initiatives within the company at the manufacturing level. He has since started the Advanced Diploma in Industrial Automation with EIT and is aiming to complete a Master of Business Administration when he completes the program.
EIT proved to be the best fit for Gerrit. Life threw its fair share of curveballs his way, but he emerged victorious. He managed to equip himself with both theoretical and practical knowledge and become a fully-fledged engineering professional.
But, Gerrit has learned that the education of life and engineering seldom ever end.
“The more I study, the more I find out how little I actually know. It’s exciting to be part of this growing organism called engineering - and I continue studying so that I am on the top of my game,” he said.
“I love engineering and the ever-expanding organism it represents. My short career has been filled with more challenges than the norm, but it has taught me that there is always a way to change your situation. You just have to be willing to take the first step and, of course, have patience. As the famous saying goes: ‘Rome was not built in a day.’”