Jules Bekoka Botomba’s story is an inspiring one. He is an Engineering Institute of Technology graduate who, despite the odds, managed to bring himself out of a difficult situation and turn it into success in the automation world.
He has obtained two qualifications with EIT.
During the Second Congo War in 2001, Jules and his family had to escape the country, effectively becoming refugees. Jules fled, looking for asylum in Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa. Coming from the DRC, Jules was predominantly French-speaking. He soon found he would have to learn English to communicate with the South Africans.
Jules realized it was going to be tougher to assimilate to South African customs than he initially thought. Asylum seekers who were waiting to be recognized as refugees were not permitted to study or work in the country.
This set Jules — a man who fantasized about having a career in engineering since he was a young boy — considerably back. The prohibitive legislation was only repealed in 2003, but, finally he could get a job. Equipped with only a matric certificate from the DRC, he went to Cape Town to try and find a job. So began his journey to develop his skills so that one day, he could be recognized as an engineer.
Jules bought a newspaper and checked the classifieds, eventually finding an ‘electrician wanted’ position. Without even knowing how to pronounce the English words in the electrical industry, Jules went to the interview for the job. He soon found out that he was to be challenged. The interview for the job consisted of having to fix 100 broken fluorescent light fittings — of which he managed to fix 60.
The employers were impressed, and he got the job with MetroRail Limited, where he worked from 2004 to 2006. In this time, he did an associate’s degree in electrical, electronic, and communications engineering technology through Intec College in South Africa.
Moving from Cape Town to KwaZulu-Natal saw Jules working for Bidvest Logistics as a Technician working from 2006 to 2007.
This is where he came into contact with programmable logic controllers, human-machine interfaces, and general automation technologies. When he began working on these technologies, he knew that in the future, everything would become automated, and if he did not focus on improving his technical know-how in automation, he would be left behind.
Jules then secured his dream job, working as a Port Automation and Control System Engineer with the Liebherr Group. They were working with the KwaZulu-Natal government to expand the piers at the port of Durban. On this job, he met a handful of engineers that reinforced the idea in Jules’ head that automation was taking over the industry. The project that the Liebherr Group did for the government of KwaZulu-Natal helped grow the economy of the region in the seven years they worked on the project.
To further build on his knowledge in automation, Jules enrolled for the 52677WA - Advanced Diploma of Remote Engineering, Mechatronics and Robotics with the Engineering Institute of Technology.
In 2015, Jules decided to look for employment outside of South Africa. This saw Jules working on ports up the coast of West Africa, namely in Nigeria and Togo.
However, he had a feeling that his true engineering potential could be realized in the United States. He began working for Interplex Automation, ArcelorMittal, and finally ended up in his current role.
Jules now works as a Lead Software Design Engineer in PACCAR — a leading truck manufacturing company in Texas. The company produces 190 trucks every 8 hours, and Jules is in charge of making the manufacturing process as efficient as possible.
Jules Bekoka Batomba is a shining example of how to overcome obstacles to get to where you need to be. Arriving in South Africa with nothing to his name but a matriculation certificate, Jules managed to elevate himself thanks to a brilliant work ethic and a hunger for knowledge — specifically in the automation world. The result is a worker who will continue to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution as the world continues to automate and transform the job markets.
Jules has recently graduated again with his Master of Engineering (Industrial Automation) from the Engineering Institute of Technology. He is now pursuing a master’s degree in robotics through the Ancestor Polytechnic Institute. There is no stopping Jules now — he has become what he always dreamed of as a young boy: a fully qualified engineer.