Mr Tazden Sewell is the first in his family to graduate with a university degree and for good measure, he achieved a cum laude pass!
Sewell received a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) degree at UKZN’s virtual Graduation ceremony for the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science. Only one other colleague, Mr John Richards, received a cum laude accolade, putting them both at the top of their class.
Sewell’s hopes of following a career in Engineering looked slightly bleak for a while as he struggled with Mathematics and Physics at school. After matric, he applied for every single Engineering degree available at UKZN but was not accepted for any as he did not meet the minimum point requirements. ‘It seemed like my hopes were dashed,’ said Sewell.
However, he received a last minute lifeline. On the day he planned to register for a BSc in Environmental Science, he received a message saying he had been accepted into the Engineering Augmented Programme. The programme adds an extra bridging year to the standard Engineering degree, thus allowing access to students who do not qualify for the mainstream engineering course but show potential to succeed. This suited Sewell perfectly, as he would now have time and support to work hard and improve his Maths and Physics marks.
During his studies, he managed to secure scholarship funding, Dean’s Commendations and even a Meritorious Student Award from the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineering (SAIMECHE) in 2020.
He is currently enrolled for a Master of Science in Engineering degree, doing research on designing and building a pipeline inspection robot that is propelled with water jets. ‘The objective is to investigate how the robot can move using only the power of water jets in a pipe full of moving water as well as remain stationary at a point without being swept away,’ he explained. ‘I chose this research topic because I love mechatronics and environmental science. I believe combining these two fields will help the effort in combating climate change in its own way.’
Sewell said self-improvement motivated him to succeed. ‘An MSc represents the next step in my education and allows me to put into practise all the skills I’ve learned as an undergraduate.’
He had words of encouragement for other students: ‘Stay hungry for knowledge and don’t wait for other people to tell you what you need to learn or do. Think of this period of study as a preparation for when you enter the working world. Learn as much as you can and take advantage of free student learning opportunities to further your studies independent from your main course.’
Sewell thanked his mother for her support and encouragement as well as his Augmented Engineering tutor and mentor, Mr Evans Zhamdire.
Words: Sanelisiwe Mahlase