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UJ’s Top engineering student scoops Chancellor’s Medal

​Mr Thapelo Ronny Tebeta, a PhD student in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment has been awarded a coveted Chancellor’s Medal, the most prestigious academic honour for University of Johannesburg (UJ) students.

These awards are annually presented to individual students in each faculty for the most meritorious study at Master’s, undergraduate and Honours levels, for academic excellence.

Read: Top achievers celebrated with Chancellor’s Medals

Thapelo obtained his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at UJ and continued for his masters degree which he completed with high distinction of 85%. Being a top academic achiever, Thapelo was also awarded the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung (scholarship) for an exchange programme to study at the Heilbronn University of Applied Science in Germany.

As a norm, the University celebrates the awarding of this prestigious award during winter graduations. Unfortunately due to restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, these have been postponed until further notice.

Mr Tebeta received the medal for his hypothesis on the ‘Enhancement of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) elastic properties by reinforcing it with Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes (SWCNTs) nanoparticlesProposing a cross-disciplinary approach that draws on environmental technology and science, the research considers the development and use of novel and cost-effective technologies for material production, material selection, products design and performance analysis in several engineering as well as medical applications.

Fieldwork for the research was undertaken on the theoretical analysis, computer simulations, and experimental approach, to reveal the investigation of the effects of two processing techniques namely injection and compression moulding as well as the consequences of adding SWCNTs nanoparticles weight fractions on the elastic properties of the HDPE matrix. The results achieved were found to be useful for the real application of the relevant materials.

Speaking of his award, Mr Tebeta commented: “I am delighted to be awarded the Chancellor’s Medal. My intention for my research project was to come up with the great research outputs that add knowledge into the existing literature of polymer-based nanocomposites and to come up with the investigation results that are useful for industrial applications for such materials. I would like to thank everyone at UJ, particularly my supervisors, for their continued support and the opportunity to conduct my research.”

“The Chancellor’s Medal award was not in my mind at the beginning of my master’s project and it was not even in my dreams. The only thing in my mind was inspiration and success because I knew that the great achievement resulting from my masters project is the fundamental key to my PhD. Being awarded the Chancellor’s Medal is an unexplainable privilege for me. This proves that everything is possible and sometimes you can even accomplish more than you aimed for.”

Mr Tebeta’s efforts of this research resulted in two Scopus indexed international conference papers and a journal article.

Mr Tebeta was jointly supervised by Prof Noor Ahmed (HoD: UJ Mechanical Engineering), Prof Asghar Mohammadpour Fattahi, (his Advisor) and Dr Nkosinathi Madushele (his Mentor). He also acknowledges his family for all the support and gives thanks to all those that contributed to his work directly or indirectly.


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