Story of a father’s hope – UJ Cum Laude graduate: Jacques Scheepers

​​​For a man with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a husband and father, graduating Cum Laude at university is surely the highest honour one could achieve. This explains Mr Jacques Scheepers’ journey towards his academic accomplishment at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), graduating Cum Laude in a Master’s degree – Technology (MTech) Chemical Engineering.​​​

​Scheepers was born in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. Due to his stepfather’s job, the family was required to move from one place to another. Scheepers therefore attended many schools in different cities while growing up and eventually matriculated at Estcourt High School. “I lived in Durban, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and, I live in Kempton Park,” he said.​​


​​Scheepers added, “Chemical Engineering is a major contributor to, amongst others, the food, industrial and chemical, petrochemical and mining sectors​.


​​Chemical Engineering plays a pivotal role in improving and maintaining the operation of facilities within these sectors. My research in particular focused on lessening the negative impact of chemical and petrochemical industries on human health and the environment.”


The 39-year-old’s Master’s mini research dissertation, entitled The influence of temperature and intermolecular forces on Volatile Organic Compounds – Ester interactions, sought to reduce harzadous human health causes.


He describes the purpose of his research as follows: “Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are particularly hazardous to human health as they cause ailments such as respiratory problems and some are even carcinogenic. Whilst some VOCs are emitted from natural sources, many are man-made through industrial processes. Due to stringent environmental legislation, these VOCs need to be removed from waste gas streams. Absorption processes are a proven end-of-pipe technology that can be effectively used to purify waste gas streams. This research evaluates whether esters, especially those which constitute biodiesel, are suitable absorbent solvents for removing VOCs from waste gas streams. The research also examines the temperature conditions under which absorption would be most suitable per VOC family,” said Scheepers.


This father and husband says that it was difficult to balance work, family life and studying. “Through sheer determination, forcing myself to study even though I was not in the mood, and of course by the grace of God, I managed to graduate with good results,” Scheepers explained.


Some of the challenges that he encountered as a Master’s student included moving to Johannesburg half way through his BTech course that he registered for at Durban University of Technology (DUT).


Scheepers is considering to pursue a PhD in the future, and might soon be taking up a part-time lecturing job in higher education. ​​​​​​

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