The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) recently joined forces with leading universities across the country to recognise civil engineering students for their research efforts.

The SAICE National IP Showdown 2022 took place in March, where students presented their final year research projects.

The event – which was sponsored by Sika, WorldsView, BVI, RIBCCS, and AF Consulting – was hosted at SAICE House in Midrand, Gauteng, and accredited for 0.2 CPD points. Students were invited to present their civil engineering university research and investigation projects, which form part of the national curriculum for final year civil engineering undergraduate students.

Through this project, students are required to select an issue that is current in the industry and then conduct research in accordance with pre-set deliverables. Once the research is complete, the student teams then present their findings to a panel of judges, which comprises both selected industry leaders and non-engineers. The presentations are then adjudicated by:

  • Identifying if teams have gained an in-depth understanding of the research project.
  • Determining whether teams showcase adequate communication skills by presenting their work to a diverse audience.
  • Exposing these top students to the industry and to key players within the industry.

The main objective of the event is to create a platform for winners from the various universities to compete on a national level.

The winners for 2022 were Liam Macgregor and Ashley Randall from the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) for their research, The Effect of Vermicompost on the Water Holding Capacity of Soil. Their study examined the potential to improve soil water retention using organic fertiliser, which is currently underutilised in South Africa.

Brendon Gova from the University of Pretoria came second, with his research on Assessing the Infiltration Characteristics of Urban Gardens. This research can be used to inform the design of economical and effective urban hydraulic structures. In third place was Mia Simon from Stellenbosch University, for her research on Using the Diffusion of Innovations Theory to Categorise Construction Industry Parties. Her research assessed innovative culture and leadership in the construction industry supply chain, and identified obstacles to innovation such as technological limitations, training requirements and cost to implement.

Nthabeleng Lentsoane, SAICE Head of Marketing and Public Relations, said: “SAICE was thrilled to once again have the opportunity to recognise and encourage research in the civil engineering industry, and we look forward to the next National IP Showdown as students seek to solve challenges they identify in the industry.”