on November 15th, 2021

Being a student is one thing. Studying while working in the mining sector of Botswana is another. Thatanyana Adeku has recently completed his 52857WA Advanced Diploma of Plant Engineering, and with it, he’s made a decisive change to his life – to keep studying.

His reasons are more than admirable.

“Good education changes lives and open new and better doors for a lot of people. Many good things happen because of education. Some people escape extreme poverty because of education that’s why I believe in being vocal and encouraging others to take personal development very seriously,” he says.

Thatanyana looking at the camera and smiling. He is wearing a blue suit
Photo: LinkedIn

Thatanyana has really proven himself as a valuable student, not just because he could directly implement his course work at Diamond Trading Company Botswana, but also because he wants to continue studying until he’s a top-form engineer.

“As a plant operator I worked on instructions that I was given by the Plant Supervisor, but after studying with EIT I have a lot of improvement on how I do my job.”

According to him, he could implement better reasoning into why he was recording or monitoring certain variables – and how it relates back to the entire operation.

Knowing his place gave him a boost of confidence. It was also great that his company helped finance some 75% of his diploma.

“The Advanced Diploma gave me skills to work as an Engineer at an Operator level and that has improved my confidence as well as the trust management have on me,” he says.

Completing a 52857WA Advanced Diploma of Plant Engineering is no easy feat, but what surprisingly edged Thatanyana closer to his goals was a month break when the tentacles of lockdown encroached into every facet of the world.

“In that time I managed to catch during the month I was not going to work.”

Being back at work during the last parts of his course, and now however shows a part of Thatanyana that is deeply dedicated.

No part of his life is skimmed.

“I wake up every day at 5 am, pray then I listen to motivational content before I prepare for work,” he says.

Thatanyana uses public transport, and as a result, he allocates an extra hour in the morning to get to work.

In this time he gets ready for the day, which is great because he makes sure to know his plant inside and out.

“I then take a walkabout to check the plant status and report back to the team during toolbox talks. I have to look at the plan for the day and maybe put some time aside for personal development especially when I am done with planned work. I study mostly in the evenings,” he says.

Making sure his family gets the same time-dedication is important for him, and it’s something that makes his academic success so much sweeter – because he’s creating a bit of a legacy.

He explains; “I come from a very remote village and there was this guy who worked in a mine as a heavy plant mechanic. During the rainy season, he would strip his father’s tractor to prepare it for ploughing. I enjoyed watching him and then developed an interest in heavy plant mechanics, that’s how I developed an interest in engineering.”

Now as an adult he hopes to also create the same kind of inspiration. In fact, he wants to complete a full educational pathway in engineering.

“I will continue studying until I get my Doctor of Engineering,” he says.

Currently, Thatanyana has been admitted to a graduate degree programme in mechanical engineering, but he’s still finding ways to ensure he can pay for it, and naturally complete it.

Thankfully so much of his Advanced Diploma modules count in his favour.

“I want to be an example for a child that comes from a very rural and poor family like I did, show them that with the right education, it is a powerful tool that can change your life.”

He knows all about personal growth, and even within the mining sector, he’s moved boulders to climb the ranks.

“I remember when I was a trainee plant operator in a salt plant I had to change a twin-boom stacker chute to a different conveyor belt, I just started the other conveyor belt and forgot to switch the chute. After some minutes I got a call from the control room that the plant has stopped, when going out I couldn’t see the book stacker as it was covered by salt.”

Now he will never make these kinds of mistakes.

Photo Credit: Supplied

Mostly because he is gearing up to become a plant or process engineer.

“What I love about my field is to see a product coming as an input into the plant then leave the plant as a very valuable product that change lives.”

As an engineer, he’s also someone who’s fascinated by processes and materials. And he has an interesting short-term goal for his village in Botswana.

“I want to build a biogas power plant in my village from cow dung as there are a lot of cows, as well as a solar power plant.”

And how will he make this a reality? Simple. Education.

“I want to use the information I got from my Advanced Diploma as well as my experience to share knowledge with those who studying engineering so that they understand the practical part of engineering.”

Some quickfire questions with Thatanyana

How do you unwind and are there specific activities you enjoy? 

I enjoy reading, that’s one thing I do every day. I read a lot about the processes I work in. I started going through EIT study material again now at a slow pace and I really enjoy the new things I learn and the most interesting part, I get solutions for plant problems from EIT study material.

What is the greatest invention ever, and what do you consider to be the worst invention ever?

Internet, I got my Advanced Diploma because of it. The worst invention is plastic as it affects our environment.

Do you have a favourite engineering joke you like to tell?

When someone says, “Nothing can be more complicated than love” throw them with engineering books.

What do you read or watch regularly?

I watch motivational videos, process plant videos and read motivational and engineering books like the Standard Handbook of Plant Engineering that I got from EIT.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I can sing very well and I was once a choirmaster, I am also good with comedy.

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