on April 23rd, 2024

Driven by a keen desire to advance his engineering skills, Irvin Chikeya embarked on his Master of Engineering (Industrial Automation) degree with the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT). As a full-time customer support engineer by day and a dedicated student by night, Irvin also dedicated his time to giving back to his community.  

Irvin and EIT  

EIT Master of Engineering (Industrial Automation) graduate Irvin admitted that his full-time job as a customer support engineer in industrial automation was challenging as he was required to frequently travel across the sub-Saharan region.  

Irvin, EIT graduate working in the community
Irvin Chikeya, EIT graduate

He said, “I had to study and complete assignments on the go. Whether on a flight or at a plant troubleshooting XRF machines, finding time for study amidst work commitments became a necessity.” 

Reflecting on his journey, Irvin acknowledged, “Adapting to this new routine was initially daunting, but with time, it became a skill I mastered.” 

As the units progressed, Irvin underwent a transformative journey, evolving from uncertainty about his research thesis to confidently presenting a structured thesis on utilizing machine learning in prognostics.  

“Each module contributed to my growth, enhancing my project planning and problem-solving skills as an Electronic Engineer,” Irvin noted with pride. 

Irvin and the Community  

Beyond his academic endeavors, Irvin’s commitment to community leadership shines through. 

Drawing upon the professional engineering management knowledge gained from EIT units, Irvin joined the board of trustees for his residential complex, Westcliff Complex.  

With a main objective of overseeing the daily management and supervising renovation projects for the complex, Irvin took on the role of project manager for various tasks, including renovating roofs, rewiring electrical systems, painting exteriors, and upgrading security systems. 

“This complex consists of 40 units and accommodates over 180 people. The primary aim was to oversee the daily management of the complex’s budget and supervise renovation projects, as the structures were over 30 years old,” said Irvin.  

Irvin’s leadership extended further as he led an initiative to reduce energy costs within the complex.  

“Building on the knowledge gained from the Electrical Engineering for Industrial Automation unit, I implemented renewable energy lighting and energy-efficient bulbs throughout Westcliff Complex, resulting in a significant reduction in energy bills.”  

“This initiative had a profound impact on our community and demonstrated the practical application of the skills I acquired through my studies,” Irvin remarked. 

Irvin’s journey exemplifies the remarkable balance between academic pursuit, professional growth, and community leadership.  

Irvin and the Bulb  

The implementation of renewable energy lighting and energy-efficient bulbs at Westcliff Complex has had a significant impact on both the economic and environmental sustainability of the complex, said Irvin.  

“In the last quarter of 2023, we observed a potential decrease in the energy bill by 10%, resulting in considerable savings in energy costs. However, there are also other intangible benefits stemming from this initiative, such as enhanced security, safety, and reduced maintenance expenses.” 

In the face of South Africa’s energy crisis, it becomes imperative for residents and municipalities to undertake such small-scale initiatives that can collectively lead to substantial national benefits.  

This has prompted Irvin to shed light on how the adoption of renewable energy lighting and energy-efficient bulbs in residential units’ benefits homeowners, tenants, and the environment.  

According to Irvin, transitioning to renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind turbines can significantly reduce or even eliminate electricity bills over time. Moreover, incorporating energy-efficient lighting, particularly LED bulbs, not only cuts down on electricity consumption but also enhances the quality of illumination, making spaces more comfortable and inviting.  

Irvin emphasized that these changes not only save money but also have a positive impact on the environment, reducing carbon footprints and contributing to a healthier planet for future generations.  

Irvin working on his project

Furthermore, the longevity and durability of LED bulbs mean fewer replacements and lower maintenance costs for homeowners. Additionally, government incentives such as tax rebates further incentivize the adoption of renewable energy systems and energy-efficient technologies, making it more accessible for communities to embrace sustainable practices.  

Irvin also highlighted the importance of resilience and energy independence, as generating renewable energy on-site increases the resilience of residential units, particularly during power outages or emergencies.  

Integrating smart lighting systems with renewable energy further optimizes energy usage, enhancing efficiency and convenience through automation and remote-control capabilities.  

He said, “Reflecting on this journey, I realized that every positive experience was accompanied by its share of challenges. The paradoxical nature of my predicament taught me the value of time and the importance of seizing opportunities, regardless of the obstacles they present.” 

Through perseverance, adaptability, and a commitment to excellence, Irvin navigated the complexities of balancing work and studies, emerging with newfound knowledge, skills, and confidence.  

His story inspires aspiring engineers seeking to make a positive impact in their careers and communities. 

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