Yesterday was a glorious winter’s day in Cape Town, offering welcome respite from the inclement weather. As we stood on the steps of Jameson Hall, looking out to the east, we marvelled at the snow-capped mountains of the Hottentots Holland range. Forty-seven years ago to the day — on 6 June 1966 — Senator Robert Kennedy delivered one of the greatest speeches
of his career entitled “Day of Affirmation” in the Jameson Hall. He provided a ripple of hope to the opponents of apartheid — both black and white — at a time when many South Africans felt isolated from the outside world.
The occasion yesterday was the mid-year graduation ceremony at the University of Cape Town for the faculties of engineering, health sciences and science. For the students, over fifty of whom received their doctoral degrees, this was an auspicious occasion. Their commencement was undoubtedly a day of affirmation, when all their hard work was rewarded, with five of the graduates having an affiliation with CapeRay.
James (L) and Nielen (R)
Two of the students have recently been recruited to full-time positions at the company. For his MSc (Med) in biomedical engineering, software engineer Nielen Venter studied very small muscle contractions, or twitches, to establish how electrical stimulation can be applied to the control of neural prostheses. James Boonzaier, who joined CapeRay as a mechanical designer at the beginning of the week, earned an MSc in mechanical engineering for his innovative technique to aid in the restoration of maxillofacial anatomy. Known as distraction osteogenesis, James and his surgical collaborator used this approach for the successful treatment of four patients.
Daniel Auger, who worked for CapeRay as a research engineer in 2011, earned his PhD in biomedical engineering for his work on mapping the myocardial mechanics of the right ventricle using 3D magnetic resonance imaging. Adijat ‘Wumi’ Inyang, supervised by CEO Kit Vaughan, earned her PhD for the development of a novel meniscal prosthesis for the knee based on composite materials, while Miné Zantow, mentored by CapeRay director Tania Douglas, was awarded an MSc for her thesis on the use of image analysis to determine the size and behaviour of droplets in microfluidic systems.
The guest speaker was Derek Hanekom, our country’s Minister of Science and Technology, who, in offering encouragement to the graduates, invoked the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”