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Department of University Relations

Geology student solid as a rock

Posted on 18 March 2010

Dr. Phil Paige-Green (Chairman of SAIEG) presenting an award to Mmathapelo Selomane (UP)
Dr. Phil Paige-Green (Chairman of SAIEG) presenting an award to Mmathapelo Selomane (UP)

An honours project by a Geology student from the University of Pretoria, Mmathapelo Selomane (24) resulted in her winning the best student award conferred on her by the South African Institute for Engineering and Environmental Geologists (SAIEG).

Selomane completed her undergraduate and honours studies at the University of Pretoria and she is currently studying for her Masters degree in Engineering Technology. She passed her honours degree with distinction last year, allowing her to continue with her Master of Science in Engineering Technology. This means that due to high standard of her honours project which she concluded within a year, she was enabled to continue to the higher level (Msc Engineering Geology). She completed a two year honours program in one year.

The achievement marks a milestone in Selomane’s career as an Engineering Geologist, notwithstanding the gloom over the lack of black female professionals in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields in South Africa. The University of Pretoria is making a tangible contribution to producing leading professionals and this also registers the calibre of graduates it produces.

Professor of Engineering Geology at the Department of Geology, Prof Louis van Rooy is Selomane’s supervisor who presented a motivation for the award. He described Selomane as a brilliant student who did her honours project on the back analysis of a slope failure at an open cast mine. “She did a short literature study but mainly focussed her project on the use of the method of slices to determine the rock/soil material strength properties for failure, and to propose future pit design parameters to prevent similar slope failure incident”.

Selomane has had a long and steadfast love for rocks. Her favourite subjects she enjoyed the most were related to the rocks. Her passion, determination and hard work are the key elements which are critical in succeeding in any field of study, particularly in a demanding field like engineering geology.

Selomane hails from Soshanguve, a township outside Pretoria and she currently stays at Tuksdorp, one of the largest postgraduate and international residence at the University of Pretoria.

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