janniemaritzThe University of Pretoria's Jannie Maritz asks: Are teaching and learning really making an impact? At Tuks, he thinks they are. Read on to find out why.

The University of Pretoria's department of Mining Engineering celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011. The first mining engineering student enrolled for the degree in 1961 and subsequently graduated in 1964.

A lot has changed on and around the campus, yet one thing has stayed the same: The quality of mining engineer graduating has improved. Every year, Tuks Mining is delivering around 30 newly developed mining engineers into the industry. These candidates are well trained in all aspects of mining, ranging from exploration all the way to mining closure and rehabilitation.

As academic citizens, the personnel at University of Pretoria are committed to participating in three major activities in their specific field of expertise: tuition, research and community involvement.

At Tukkies, we strive to produce a well-rounded general mining engineer who has exposure to all facets of the mining industry, including rock engineering/strata control, meeting all the exit level outcomes set by the engineering council (ECSA) to provide a professional service.

Continuing education

UPUP is set up in such a manner that the benefit of pre- and post-graduate training and training material can be presented to industry through an initiative called continuing education (CE@UP). Programmes can be developed in association with mining houses to set up a course to suit specific needs in various fields or with the industry to address common industry needs.

In the research department, specifically in rock engineering, two extraordinary professors have recently been assigned to a centre of excellence in numerical modelling. This will be in addition to the currently enrolled post graduate students studying towards either a Masters or Doctorate in Mining Engineering all with a specialisation in the field of rock engineering.

Methodology

As part of the teaching methodology at Tukkies, the mining department applied the thinking preference model from Herrmann to teaching, providing optimal learning opportunities for all students by using the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument HBDI. In a nut shell, the HBDI® profile illustrates and explains the way you prefer to think, learn, communicate and make decisions.

As we interact with the world, different situations require different thinking. For example, which of the following would you prefer when you are being taught about animals in a game reserve – words or pictures?

To some, diagrams and pictures are much more effective than pure text, whereas others prefer factual detail to abstract illustrations. The illustration shows the four quadrants: (A) Rational, (B) Procedural, (C) Interpersonal and (D) Strategic. There is no ONE thinking preference that will fit one industry, yet some traits are found more often than others in specific disciplines. Some basic keywords for each quadrant are presented. Where do you fit?

A second means of categorising people in the same industry and discipline is to look at their habits. It is not that easy to change one's personality, whereas behaviour can change and can be taught, depending on the environment. Tuks Mining has endeavoured to build a database of the behavioural habits of successful professionals in the mining engineering field.

The aim is to screen prospective mining engineering students at various stages through the BEng programme to identify behaviour areas where candidates could benefit from additional mentoring and coaching so that they can be developed to optimise their output in a specific environment. The comparison would typically be between a first year student and a successful final year student to highlight "high risk" students. It could also be between a final year student and professionals to ascertain if the newly graduated individual is on par with the best in industry with reference to their behaviour.

The benefits of such a database are that different sets of individuals could be grouped to establish a discipline benchmark outlining the trends towards success. An individual can then be benchmarked against the benchmark behaviour.

All encompassing

The education Tukkies provides for the rock engineering industry is focused on pre- and post-graduate levels. As part of the Bachelor's degree in Engineering, the prospective mining engineer is equipped with the fundamentals of rock engineering; the same material is covered as in the Strata Control Certificate and Rock Engineering Certificate Paper 1. We then also offer post-graduate modules as part of the Honours programme. The subjects offered include Basic Rock Engineering (part of the applied science Honours), Slope Stability, Strata Control – Collieries and Strata Control – Hard Rock. There is then, of course, scope for a rock engineering Special Guided Study module on Honours level and Masters and Doctoral dissertations in the field of rock engineering.

Minimum requirements for entry to these modules are:

1. B.Eng (Hons) Mining Engineering – an accredited engineering degree or equivalent;

2. B.Sc (Hons) Applied Science – a three year relevant B.Sc degree, B-Tech degree or a non-accredited engineering degree.

A) Problem solving

  • Mathematical
  • Technical
  • Analytical
  • Logical
  • Quantitative
  • Factual
D) Conceptualising
  • Synthesising
  • Imaginative
  • Holistic
  • Artistic
  • Metaphoric
  • Integrative
  • Visual

B) Planning

  • Controlled
  • Conservative
  • Administrative
  • Organisational
  • Sequential
  • Detailed
  • Organised
C) Talker
  • Musical
  • Spiritual
  • Emotional
  • Interpersonal
  • Humanistic
  • Expressive
  • Sensory

 If you would like to know your brain dominance or behaviour trends and be part of the mining discipline database, please contact Jannie Maritz at Tukkies (jannie.maritz@up.ac.za)