Created: Monday, 03 October 2016 07:38
Professor Selo Ndlovu is an Associate Professor at the School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering at Wits University and President Elect of the SAIMM. She holds a DST/NRF-funded research chair (SARChI) in Hydrometallurgy and Sustainable Development. She presents hydrometallurgy courses to chemical and metallurgical engineering students at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and also supervises Master’s and Doctoral research students. I recently sat down with her for a chat about her career, students, and the SAIMM. This was shortly after the successful Hydrometallurgy Conference, for which she was the chairperson of the organizing committee. We spoke about her choice of metallurgy as a career, the importance of postgraduate studies, women in engineering, as well as the importance of organizations such as SAIMM.
IT: What sparked your interest in metallurgical engineering while in high school?
Prof. SN: When I was a student I was drawn to mathematics, physics, and chemistry, specifically inorganic chemistry. Further to that, we were taught about the processing of different materials to make products. We were taught about the Bayer process for the production of alumina, the Haber process for ammonia production, the production of sulphuric acid etc. I found all that fascinating. I wanted to know how I could apply such knowledge, and what the impact would be in the community and industry.
In my final year of high school we had a career fair. We had university and industry people coming to tell us about metallurgy – that metallurgy is related to mining, and that almost everything around us has passed through some metallurgical process. When I saw how the chemical and physical characteristic of metals can be manipulated in order to extract metals from ores and move from a solid rock to a solid metal and started connecting it to all that I had learnt in high school, I was captivated; I felt this was where I wanted to be.