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Wishlist 2017

Posted By Vaughan Rimbault, Wednesday, 01 February 2017

There are a few issues that I really wish we would see some progress on this year.

I would so dearly like to see some significant progress on the identification of engineering work.  I think it’s about time that everyone took a fresh look at this key element of the regulation of the engineering profession.  The value of the engineering profession remains depressed in the absence of identified engineering work.

I hope that we will see the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car in action on the Hakskeen Pan this year.  This project is still very much alive, and recent significant financial support is bringing this much anticipated event closer than ever.  I hope that SAIMechE will play a role in the hosting of visits by fellow professionals, and that we will be offering attractive hospitality packages to the event. 

I wish for a peaceful and valuable year of study to all mechanical engineering students, and encourage them to become involved with their local SAIMechE Student Chapter.  Many Students needs can be addressed by industry, and the Student Chapter offers a unique channel into the heart of industry.

I hope that those graduates who are in the Candidate phase will realise the value of the learning outcomes described in ECSA’s competency standards for professional registration.  Achieving the learning outcomes and being able to demonstrate competency through a portfolio of your work evidence is the most effective way of getting the skills necessary for success.

I hope to see more interaction in our special interest groups.  SAIMechE provides a very useful online platform for the creation of groups to address the special interests of members.  But no matter how good the platform is, the real value lies in the interaction between group members.  I hope that members will realise the huge resource that lies within the membership of SAIMechE, and will be more determined in their search for knowledge and support.

And finally, I hope that you have a plan of how you are going to use your membership of SAIMechE to achieve meaningful professional and personal growth in 2017.


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Jonker Sailplanes

Posted By Vaughan Rimbault, Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Updated: Wednesday, 15 May 2013

I consider myself very fortunate to have attended a recent presentation by Uys Jonker of Jonker Sailplanes (gliders), because what Uys and his brother Attie are doing in Potchefstroom reminds me of why mechanical engineering remains an exciting and challenging profession.

 Uys and his brother Attie have stunned the international competitive sailplane community with their JS1 Revelation sailplane.  You might want to read the website testimonials from world-champion pilots to appreciate why the Revelation is exactly that - a revelation.  Jonker Sailplanes seem to have caught established sailplane manufacturers completely by surprise. Starting with a blank sheet, and investing heavily in pure engineering, the Revelation chased incremental reductions in drag as the key to improved performance, and the results speak for themselves.

I'll admit that Uys' presentation style contributed to my enjoyment of the presentation. His dry, north-west humour suited the content, and his absolute passion for the project was clear from start to finish. Even though aeronautics is my field at all, I'm convinced that Uys knows exactly what he is doing. Much like Andy Green of Bloodhound, Uys displays a thorough understanding of the Revelation, much gained through his role as test pilot.

This is an engineering success story if ever there was one.  Realising a childhood dream always makes great copy, but this story is very special because it has been built on solid engineering from the ground up.  Well done Jonker Sailplanes for showing us how it should be done.

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SAIMechE in 2012

Posted By Vaughan Rimbault, Thursday, 12 January 2012
Compliments of the season to you all.  I trust you have survived another silly season, and by now you are probably back in the swing of things and looking forward to the year ahead.  That's where I find myself and so I thought I would share my wish list with you concerning some of the bigger SAIMechE issues which I hope will see some action in 2012.

At the top of my wish list is to see more SAIMechE members using the SAIMechE web platform for their own benefit.  I hope to see members finding employment through the site's career section, and for other members to earn placement and referral fees.  I hope to see members selling their intellectual property through the site, in electronic formats such as PDFs, spreadsheets, videos, audio files.  I hope to see members launching successful newsletters for paying subscribers.  All these good things are available to all members at no charge - just some effort on their part.

I hope SAIMechE will launch the Professional Development Programme (PDP) in 2012, aimed at providing a structured framework within which Candidates can develop towards professional registration.

I wish for some meaningful progress in the identification of engineering work, and that those who have been trying to get this issue resolved for the past decade will step aside and make way for others to have a try.

Finally, I wish for a significant South African company to become the Patron of SAIMechE, and to support our efforts at developing the Mechanical Engineering profession in South Africa.

Oh yes, I am also wishing for a 4-week surfing holiday in Hawaii.

Until then, it's shoulder to the wheel.  Have fun.   

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Salary increases, grievances and discipline

Posted By Vaughan Rimbault, Thursday, 10 February 2011
I think you may benefit from reading the following short online article from Fleet Street Publications, which gives insightful guidance on human resources issues such as salary increases, grievance and disciplinary procedures.

You'll find the article at:

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Identification of Engineering Work

Posted By Vaughan Rimbault, Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Engineering Profession Act (EPA) states that: "A person who is not registered in terms of this Act, may not perform any kind of work identified for any category of registered persons”.

In simple terms, if you are not registered in terms of the EPA then you may not perform work which has been identified in terms of the EPA.

This can be viewed from a few different angles:

  • You must be registered to perform identified work;
  • Identified work can only be performed by registered persons;
  • You need not register if you do not perform any identified work.

The purpose of the identification of work is thus to define the practice area which is exclusively set aside for registered persons. This seems to be a reasonable arrangement, and provides the necessary protection of the public and the profession.

The problem we face is that ten years after the EPA was signed into law, there is still no identified work for the engineering profession. ECSA and the CBE are at loggerheads over this crucial issue, and they don’t seem to be making any headway in resolving the impasse.

So where does that leave the engineering professional? If you register then you bind yourself to the code of conduct which can be used against you if you misbehave. But you get nothing in return. You don’t get identified work which is reserved for you. You don’t get the assurance that unregistered persons performing identified work will be prosecuted. And you don’t get the assurance that companies carrying out identified work will be prosecuted if they allow unregistered persons to do the work. All you get is the risk of disciplinary action if you misbehave, while the unregistered person is free to do as he likes and cannot be touched by ECSA.

That doesn’t seem fair or equitable.

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