Thapelo Shomana is a graduate researcher and teaching instructor at the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) coordinating various modules in the Chemical, Materials & Metallurgical Engineering department. He also works as a research project coordinator for the “Beneficiation of Botswana coal for metallurgical purposes; waste plastic pyrolysis; design of poultry litter plant” project.
To mark the Sir Seretse Khama Day, a holiday in Botswana to commemorates the first President of Botswana on the anniversary of his birth on this day in 1921, Dr Akanimo Odon recently interviewed Thapelo to find out a little more about him, his experience with RECIRCULATE and how he celebrates Sir Seretse Khama Day.
Please briefly share with us your professional history.
Some of my responsibilities include planning and execution of various U/G modules in the department; process control, process modelling and simulation, materials science, hydrometallurgy, mineral processing etc. I also supervise undergraduate and postgraduate research projects (most projects are carbon-based) and write research grant proposals. Finally, I work with external partners for collaboration such as University of Zimbabwe, Botswana Geoscience Institute, Mupane Gold Mine, Mowana Copper Mine, Morupule Mine, Debswana, Botswana Innovation Hub etc.
How did you hear about the RECIRCULATE project and what has been your experience engaging with the project so far?
I firstly heard about the RECIRCULATE project through a work colleague. Since my first training, most I have identified an untapped value in knowledge exchange and here are my few applications of tools learnt so far:
- Invitation from a process engineer from Mupane Gold Mine to give a lecture to my class of Hydrometallurgy students last year.
- Invitation from an electrical engineer from Debswana to give an ‘engineer’s industrial perspectives’ lecture to 230 1st year engineering students early this year.
- Taking 31 mineral processing students on a process plant tour at Mowana Copper Mine in June this year.
- Forging and fully utilizing links between the BIUST and University of Zimbabwe and Botswana Geoscience Institute and Botswana Innovation Hub on beneficiation of Botswana coal for metallurgical purposes.
How are you celebrating or how will you be celebrating the Botswana Independence Day?
Taking some time off and spending quality time with my daughter.
What would you say are the two biggest challenge you face in Botswana in your line of work?
Lack of research funding.
Are there opportunities you think can be explored bearing in mind these challenges you highlighted?
Yes, the creation of a national research funding body and reserve at least 3 % of the GDP for research related activities if we are to truly experience our economic diversification. There is an opportunity to also challenge the private sector to drive research activities.
Any final thoughts about your country Botswana?
There is a pool of untapped local capacity which will take the country to a new dimension if motivated and given the right tools. The opportunities are limitless.
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