Mr Njabulo Mbanjwa carried the excellent results he achieved during his school years into his tertiary education career graduating with an MSc Physics degree, specialising in Space Science.
Mbanjwa completed his schooling at Injoloba Secondary School where his teacher, Mrs N G Mazibuko, described him as the most exceptional student she had encountered in her 21 years in education.
He completed a BSc in Physics and Mathematics on the Pietermaritzburg campus, followed by an honours degree on the Westville campus where he had his first encounters with space science, which he found very interesting.
Mbanjwa eventually specialised in space science with the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP).
‘As a Pure Physics graduate, the transition to astrophysics and space science was a bit challenging,’ he said.
Mbanjwa’s master’s research involved using data from space-based satellites to investigate the sources of waves which have ultra-low frequencies (ULF) in the magnetosphere – the upper atmosphere region.
‘My research plays an important role in understanding energy processes from the sun to earth which is crucial for space weather research,’ he said. ‘This involves the impact of the sun in causing skin irritations, damaging satellites and electrical blackouts in a technologically dependent society.’
Attaining this master’s qualification was not without it challenges. ‘At first it was really difficult to work consistently since I had no course work to put me under pressure,’ he said. ‘But I sharpened my self-discipline and learned other soft and programming skills during my time spent at conferences and programming workshops.’
Mbanjwa plans to gain relevant work experience in scientific computing to complement his academic qualifications and to secure a professional career in data science. He is currently doing an internship in systems development and data analysis at Tritech Media.
Mbanjwa enjoys playing soccer and cards as well as travelling in his spare time.
Mbanjwa thanked his supervisors Dr Zolile Mtumela and Dr Judy Stephenson as well as the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and NASSP for sponsoring his studies. He dedicated his master’s degree to his father, Mr Oscar Thulsizwe Mabaso, and mothers, Miss Ellina Dombi Mbanjwa and Mrs Sizakele Mabaso, whose love, support and guidance led him to this moment.
Said his sister, Miss Sebenzile Mbanjwa: ‘We would like to congratulate you as a family. ‘May God continue to bless you with success. You are the hope of this family.’
Words: Samantha Ngcongo