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Lessons from aviation’s best

- By Buhle Zuma

 Aviation luminary Des Barker was the guest speaker at the valedictory celebration hosted by the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Aeronautical Engineering for its final year undergraduate students.

Barker, who established his reputation as an experimental test pilot in the South African Air Force and is a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society, addressed the class of 2014 consisting of 162 students – 94 mechanical, 35 aeronautical and 33 industrial engineering students.

Barker amused parents, students and industry leaders at the event by sharing his observations of some of the ‘engineering personality types’ that he has encountered during job selection processes. Of these he warned students about the ‘impatient type’ who wants to occupy a management position within the shortest of time.

“In life you need work-life experience before you collect reams of degrees behind your name. You need to establish credibility within your specialist field so that people will recognise you.”

Passion; sacrifice and patience; and religion/faith to anchor one in times of adversity are required in order to build a successful career said Barker.

Students also had an opportunity to present their projects to industry leaders and show off to their parents what they have learnt during their four years at university. This was rounded-off with the awarding of prizes to students by the South African Institute of Mechanical Engineering, the Aeronautical Society of South Africa and the South African Institute of Industrial Engineering.

Read more about Barker, or listen to his speech.