Tatenda Nherera is an EIT graduate, having obtained his Advanced Diploma of Electrical and Instrumentation (E&I) Engineering for Oil and Gas Facilities (DEI). He grew up in Gweru, Zimbabwe, but now lives in South Africa.
I asked him when the engineering bug bit. He believes it was when he was just 10 years old: he would pick through the components of faulty and abandoned radios and TVs, salvage selected parts and then repurpose them to create something else. He then took it a step further and began varying speeds on small DC motors – he became hooked!
He completed his Ordinary Level in 2006. After that, in 2008, he enrolled at Gweru Polytechnic College as an Electrical Power student. He excelled in all six of his subjects - most of all, in mathematics and science. He became an intern at Cargill Cotton Company, at their Ginnery, and continued to tinker with circuits, designing them for different scenarios.
At an agricultural expo in 2009, Tatenda showed off a traffic light system that he had designed and built. He received first prize in the Science and Technology section. It was awarded by the Deputy Prime Minister and a Professor of Robotics, Arthur Mutambara.
In 2015 he enrolled at the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) which allowed him to continue working while he studied. He says:
“Through EIT’s cutting edge presentation and delivery of materials and labs my maintenance, diagnostic and fault finding approach significantly improved. My improved technical report writing skills helped a lot in conveying necessary messages through motivations, recommendations and methodologies which were found to be technically sound and informative.”
Apart from his involvement in a range of projects in mining, textile and food industries, Tatenda works for Blue Aqua Projects, a Facilities Management Company with vast experience in water care facilities, laundry, kitchen, steam reticulation equipment. It is contracted by the Eastern Cape Department of Health to service, repair, maintain and install equipment. He uses his expertise in electrical and instrumentation engineering to service, maintain and repair key industrial scale laundry and kitchen machinery in a number of cities in the province, including Port Elizabeth, East London, Mthatha and Butterworth.
Tatenda believes that improving efficiencies in industrial laundry and kitchen equipment is of vital importance to a range of businesses (apart from health facilities) around the world. Tatenda comments that technological advancements are occurring at a rapid pace:
"New control and drive systems are being introduced to old and discontinued laundry machines. This approach moved the Eastern Cape health system to another level. The PLC (Programmable Logic Controllers) controlled systems, blended with HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces), brought another ergonomic feel to operators, it has enhanced production and saves energy. Old gearboxes and extra-big motors - with multiple motor drives for different speeds and torque - have been substituted with variable speed drives and better-sized single motors, to very good effect.”
Tatenda received his DEI qualification, an Australian accredited qualification, from EIT in October 2017. He filed an application with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) to be professionally recognized in South Africa.
After some time, despite not having a South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) certificate, the positive news eventually came. ECSA recognized him as a Candidate Technician. This showed that, together with his work experience, EIT’s online qualification was the vehicle which gained him South African status within engineering. It was particularly stressful for Tatenda. He explains:
“I never thought a positive outcome was going to be obtained from this submission, considering that I made this application without a SAQA certificate. (It is normal practice that all foreign qualifications to be channeled through SAQA - for evaluation and grading - before other South African organizations/bodies consider and accept them). I got my SAQA outcome a month after receiving ECSA certification.”
Tatenda says that studying through EIT provided him with a wide network of students and lecturers from all over the world. He notes that attending classes from anywhere was a pleasure - he could take a break as needed and could even learn from his bedroom.
To strengthen his skills further, says Tatenda, he is currently studying a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Automation through EIT.
“I will remain employed and still study part time as I did on my previous course. The studies are giving me more meaningful skills, and contributing to the African society, where Engineering skills like mine are very scarce.”