13 February 2024

The following personality profile on a woman in engineering features a newly-qualified engineer Kerisha Tiara Moonsamy, whose research project was on concrete.

Honours Project: 3D Printer

  • Researched, designed and constructed a 16 m2 3D printer to print houses using a concrete mixture with complete manufacturing drawings for my honours design project.
  • The project entailed completing thorough research into different 3D printer frame designs. The frame chosen was a gantry frame that allowed motion in the X,Y and Z directions.
  • The system would comprise of a mixer to mix the concrete mixture, a pump to pump the mixture up to a hopper extruder mechanism and a ball type nozzle to allow the printer to print designs.
  • The concrete mixture had to be a special mixture of water, cement, fly ash and limestone to ensure that the house structure would be printable. Each layer needed to be dry before the next layer could be printed therefore it required a special mixture.
  • The model of the house was drawn on CAD software which was uploaded to slicer to generate a G-code. This code would then go onto the Pronterface software to allow the machine to read the code and start printing the structure.
  • The model was built using mild steel channels for the gantry frame design. A chain and sprocket mechanism was used to create the motion in the X,Y and Z axis. The sprocket was rotated by the NEMA stepper motors.

Q: Please take us through your engineering career listing its highlights

I completed my Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Mechanical Engineering from The Durban University of Technology with Dean’s Merit and Cum Laude. Thereafter I proceeded to complete my Honours in Mechanical Engineering, graduating with Dean’s Merit and Cum Laude for the second time.

Researched, designed and constructed a 16 m2 3D printer to print houses using a concrete mixture with complete manufacturing drawings for my honours design project.

Conducted research, designed and built a ventilator that worked on compressing an AMBU bag to provide oxygen to patients for my design project.

Currently I am completing my graduate programme where I discovered my passion for the HVAC industry.

Q: What challenges did you experience?

One of the greatest challenges that I needed to overcome was finances to pay for my university studies. I was fortunate enough to receive a bursary from SAFCOL for my degree and thereafter I received NRF funding for my honours programme. I worked extremely hard throughout my high school and tertiary career as I knew I needed excellent marks to receive funding. This determination and hard work ethic has remained with me and is helping me blossom in the working world.

Q: What drew you to a career in engineering in the first place, and how you came to your present position?

As a recent graduate I have a passion for learning and I aim to be challenged. Being introduced to the HVAC industry was new territory for me. I divulged into the vast theory and broadness of the industry. The complexity and science stole my heart. Mathematics and physical science were always my favourite subjects, I could never put down a question until I had the answer. The complexity of both comfort cooling and data centres have engaged me and it has become my goal to become an expert in the field.

Q: What do you have to say to other women thinking of entering the engineering, in terms of your experiences and what you have so far learned?

Do not ever doubt that you cannot be an engineer just because you are female. Women in engineering is the future, there is nothing that we as women should feel we cannot achieve. All the hard work and sacrifices do pay off in the end. There is no greater pleasure than walking on that graduation stage yielding your completion certificate. It all builds up for that proud moment.

Q: What do you like most about HVAC/engineering and what least?

The thing I love most about HVAC is that you will never be bored because no two tasks or situations will be identical. Comfort cooling and the data centre industry is constantly evolving and changing which ensure that your mind is always stimulated. The thing I enjoy the least is meeting people who do not have the same passion for maths and engineering as myself.

Q: How do you see the sector evolving over the next ten years and the role of R&D in this?

My goal is to become a PR Eng Tech in the HVAC industry and I want to accomplish this within the next 10 years. Engineering is becoming overrun by software programs but I want to be the type of engineer who can complete those tasks by hand. I want to rely on my textbooks not AI for answers. I plan on gaining as much knowledge and experience in the HVAC as I can. Being an engineer is not a choice, it is a passion.

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