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History and Overview
The Department of Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering is the only one of its kind in South Africa, offering integrated undergraduate and post-graduate programmes which span the full spectrum of metallurgy, including minerals processing, hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, physical metallurgy, welding and corrosion.
The Department was established in 1959 as part of the then newly formed Faculty of Engineering at the University of Pretoria. Today it is part of the School of Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering, the Built Environment and Information Technology.
We train engineers who are productive in the South African and international metals and minerals industries. Our students are sought after in industry. Typically, all our students will have received job offers before graduating; on average, about 50-70% of students in Metallurgical Engineering already have bursaries in their first year.
The degree in Metallurgical Engineering - BEng (Metallurgical Engineering) - offered by the Department is accredited by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) as an acceptable educational qualification for registration as a Professional Engineer. ECSA is a full member of the Washington Accord, and through this accord the degree is recognised internationally.
The degree programme is designed to give graduates a sound and comprehensive education in all fields of metallurgical engineering and encompasses minerals processing, hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, physical metallurgy and welding.
Teaching is in English (although there is the option to follow the first-year and most second-year undergraduate modules in Afrikaans).
The Department also offers higher degrees in Metallurgical Engineering (BEng Hons, MEng and PhD). The entrance requirement for these degrees is a BEng (Metallurgical) degree or a degree of similar status. Students with BSc and BTech degrees can gain entry to the BSc Hons (Applied Science) programme, leading to an MSc and PhD. Various Continuing Education Courses aimed at both practising engineers and graduate students are also offered by the Department on subjects such as Flotation, Pyrometallurgy, Hydrometallurgy, Heat Treatment, Failure Analysis, Corrosion Engineering and Welding Engineering. The Department has a strong research emphasis, with active research programmes in Minerals Processing and Metals Extraction, Pyrometallurgy, Refractory Materials Physical Metallurgy, Corrosion and Welding Engineering. The Department also offers a specialised course in Welding to train International Welding Engineers and Technologists.
The emphasis is on applied research, and all the research programs in the Department are linked to and sponsored by industry. Two research chairs have been established recently - The Chair in Pyrometallurgy sponsored by Anglo Platinum (Prof Andrie Garbers-Craig has held this chair from 2010) and the Chair in Welding Engineering (which Prof Madeleine du Toit holds, as from 2011). Another chair in Pyrometallurgical Modelling (held by Dr Johan Zietsman) was launched in February of 2012.
The heart of the Department is its students and staff. On average, fourty new first-years start the undergraduate programme each year. The Department has 12 full-time academic staff, 6 contract researchers at IMMRI and 6 support staff.
The current acting head of department is Prof Waldo Stumpf.