Agricultural engineer Thabo Mavundza starts his work day with a good cup of coffee and a laugh. Being an agricultural engineer was his dream and today he is an engineering manager at Westfalia Fruit in Limpopo province. You might have enjoyed an avacado grown with the help of this engineer.
Mavundza gives comprehensive technical advice, ensuring compliance in legal land and water use authorization. He executes projects with a team of engineers, technicians and artisans.
“Agricultural engineering is an exciting, diverse and everchanging field to work in, says Mavundza. “One needs to have an appetite, ability and willingness to learn new things, to stay relevant and continue to contribute meaningfully”.
A proud career moment is serving on the national council of the South African Institute Agricultural Engineers and as part of various committees of the Engineering Council of South Africa.
Echoing author Brian Herbert he advises young South Africans that “the capacity to learn is a gift, the ability to learn is a skill and willingness to learn is a choice.” He adds: You have a gift and it is your time to dream, live and thrive”.
If this career or field of study interests you then follow Mavundza’s advice below. Over the next few weeks we will feature many more careers to choose from in the agri sector on Food for Mzansi and 19 radio stations all over the country.
Now, lets hear from engineering manager at Westfalia, Fruit Thabo Mavundza…
1Could you sum up your job for us? I provide comprehensive technical advice and ensure compliance in legal land and water use authorisation. I execute projects through a team of engineers, technicians and artisans as engineering manager at Westfalia Fruit.
2So, what does the day-to-day of your job entail? A good cup of coffee and a laugh! My focus area revolves around providing sound technical, engineering advice. Other tasks include developing maintenance strategies and planning and management of projects right from conceptualising and design until execution.
This can include, but is not limited to, the installation of bulk water pipelines, dams, irrigation systems, pack houses and farming equipment and/or fleets. I have to work closely with ensuring the associated legal compliance thereof such as issues of health and safety, environmental issues as well as water and land use.
What qualification do you need for this career? A degree in agricultural engineering and professional registration with Engineering Council of South Africa.
4What are the character traits you need to be great at your job?Agricultural engineering is an exciting, diverse and everchanging engineering field. One needs to have an appetite, ability and willingness to learn new things to stay relevant and continue to contribute meaningfully. Being detailed, innovative and taking a low hanging fruit approach has always proven to the best. Your clients accept and enjoy it more.
5What subjects do I need to become an agricultural engineer? Good marks in mathematics and physical science, but it is important to have a dream.
6What do you love about agriculture as a space to work in? The ability to work and navigate through a multi-disciplinary world of engineers, to specialise and potentially be good business managers and owners. The experience and feeling of working outdoors is one of the added benefits.
7Don’t be modest, tell us about your proudest career moments? I have had several of my dreams come true. Registration as a professional engineer and serving in the national council of South African Institute Agricultural Engineers was one. Also being part of various committees of the Engineering Council of South Africa. Most importantly, being able to share, mentor and walk this engineering journey with my brothers and sisters.
8What do you do when you’re not at work? I enjoy cooking traditional meals, spending time with my family and thinking of ways and means to continue making a difference.
9Any advice for young people who are inspired by your career story here on AgriSETA Learner Connect? In the words of Brian Herbert: “Capacity to learn is a gift , ability to learn is a skill and willingness to learn is a choice”. You have a gift and it is your time to dream, live and thrive.
10Where can I study to become an agricultural engineer? The University of Kwa-Zulu Natal is the only tertiary institute offering a degree in agricultural engineering. However we have seen and know a number of civil and mechanical engineers from various universities in South Africa who successfully converted into agricultural engineering.
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