The internationally accredited Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal is greatly sought after by aspiring engineers. One such proud aspirant was Mr Mikhail Narsai, who graduated with a Master of Science cum laude.
The journey to his success, however, proved to be stressful yet extremely rewarding. ‘Stressful would be the understatement of the century. The Mechanical Engineering degree required a lot from us. In first year it was an adjustment to finish lectures late and still have to study,’ said Narsai.
He said studying towards a degree in Mechanical Engineering requires strict discipline, but admits ‘it was a world of fun’ and many of the memories he made will be treasured forever.
Narsai regards Chris Gardener, an American businessman, as his role model. ‘Chris Gardner has persistence and drive. He made it his goal to become proficient in a field he knew nothing about, and he attained that goal out of necessity. He became successful through his own innovativeness and shear willpower. I hope to attract success in the same way that Chris proactively did,’ said Narsai. With a dream of one day owning a business in South Africa, Narsai hopes to help address the water and electricity crisis in the country.
Narsai, who has interest in 3D printing, action cricket and taekwondo, said other students should find the path they wish to take. ‘People will tell you that it’s not for you sometimes. People may give you a multitude of reasons to do something else. Find out what you want to do. You can be everything you want to be and more. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and be sure to help those who ask you.’
Narsai’s research for his master’s degree:
The dissertation addresses the complexities of stresses at joints and buckling. The space frame design consists of two segments of iterations. The second and more important segment is based on optimisation through finite element analysis (FEA). The design and execution of a new test method was developed to validate FEA results. The test method involves applying compressive stress on tubes fabricated using unidirectional (UD) fibre set at 35°, to induce compressive and shear stresses along the primary fibres. In this way, four major failure criteria were compared. The Hoffman and Tsai-Wu criteria were shown to be accurate and conservative. The Hill criteria showed inaccuracy by having incorrectly high strength ratios, while the Maximum Strain criteria had the highest strength ratio, proving to be the least conservative and most inaccurate. This dissertation shows that certain failure criteria may be used confidently in applications such as filament winding and continuous pultrusion methods, which are widely used in producing closed sections.
Words: Prashina Budree