College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Top Civil Engineering Graduate Follows in Family’s Footsteps

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It was a proud moment for graduate, Mr Sanav Singh, when he was awarded his BScEng degree in Civil Engineering summa cum laude – the only one in his class to receive the accolade.

Like many students, his academic journey has been a roller coaster experience.

‘The sheer amount and difficulty of the work itself contributed to many lengthy, exasperating nights,’ recalled Singh. ‘However, through collaborative learning, dedication and a genuine love for engineering, I was able to persevere and complete my degree summa cum laude.’

Singh chose UKZN because of its ranking as one of the best South African institutions for engineering and physics. ‘In addition, my father and sister both completed their degrees in Civil Engineering at UKZN so it seemed right to follow in their footsteps,’ he said.

Singh’s dissertation concentrated on the impact of green retrofitting on water consumption, energy usage and associated carbon emissions of office type buildings. He used Chatsworth SAPS Police Station for his case study.

Singh said his parents were his role models because of their exceptional hard work. ‘It is only through their unwavering support and resolute encouragement that I remained persistently inspired to achieve my goals,’ he said.

Singh wants to grow within the Engineering field. ‘I am currently working for Singh Govender and Associates as a consulting civil/structural engineer,’ he said. ‘In this position, I hope to grow and expand my knowledge in all facets of civil and structural engineering design. I aspire to become a professionally registered engineer and to be the lead designer on multi-disciplinary projects.’

‘Sanav has always performed exceptionally well ever since his early childhood years,’ said proud father, Sunil. ‘As a parent, I would consider his greatest attribute to be his down-to-earth attitude, combined with his humility. It also gives me great pleasure as a professional Civil Engineer and fellow alumnus and graduate of Natal University to see Sanav following in the footsteps of his elder sister who obtained a summa cum laude for her Master’s degree in Structural Engineering. Engineering is in the Singh genes it seems!’

His mother, Shamini, agreed: ‘Congratulations Sanav on your exemplary performance!’

Dr Georgios Drosopoulos, who supervised Singh for his fourth-year structural design project, said Singh’s performance during each phase of the demanding project had been outstanding. ‘Sanav is an efficient civil engineer, ready to face and overcome every possible engineering challenge,’ he said.

Fellow academic, Dr Elena Friedrich, said with an overall average of 88%, Singh excelled in all modules during his studies and his overall performance as a student was exceptional. ‘He is a polite and hardworking student, who produced an outstanding dissertation on water and energy efficiency in buildings,’ she said. ‘His work showed that important savings can be made by adopting different measures, some of them simple but efficient. Through this work, he shows commitment to improving the functional and environmental performance of buildings, bettering our surroundings and society in general.’

Singh offered this advice to aspiring Engineering students: ‘Engineering is one of the most difficult and demanding courses at university. There will be times when you question your decision to pursue the degree and whether or not to continue pushing. Don’t choose Engineering because your parents told you to do it or because all your friends are doing it – you’ll be wasting your time.

‘Having said that, if Engineering is truly your passion, do not let anything deter you from achieving your goals. If you have the right mindset, there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained and incredible people to connect with. At the end, you will look back and genuinely appreciate your determination, making your success all the sweeter.’

Words: Manqoba Hadebe

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal