Hendriëtte van der Walt spoke to Lucky Sikhwivhilu, the new Head of the DST/Mintek NIC.
Lucky grew up in Mondeor, in the south of Johannesburg and holds a doctorate in chemistry, with focus areas in nanotechnology, inorganic chemistry, catalysis and material science. He was previously with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) before joining Mintek in January 2011.
He currently focuses on Nanofabrication using lithographic techniques; Deposition techniques such as Chemical/Physical Vapor Deposition; Synthesis, functionalization and characterization of functional nanostructures ; Application of nanomaterials in solar energy, water treatment systems, gas sensing, etc.; Electronic properties of nanoscale structures-and the development of nanoscale devices and Interfaces, Theory and Modelling.
We asked him some questions about his time at Mintek and his relationship with science.
Did you always want to do science? "I always wanted to look and sound smart and thought Chemistry would do that for me. I like Science and the promise it holds to provide solutions and to improve living standards. I am a very curious person who loves knowledge and so scientific research means exploring new ideas and daring to think unconventionally. Science being a global enterprise allows me to get a sense of how others outside my cultural boundaries think about our surrounding and this inspires me to think innovatively."
What has Mintek taught you? "That attitude is everything and that it is important for success. I have also learned to make a difference with the little I have and to balance work life."
What are your keys to success? "I always strive to make wise choices and improve on my interpersonal relationships and interactions. The price is hefty, but totally worth the time investment."
Sinazo had a brief discussion with our resident intern, Ntsako Chauke, who has since moved on.
Ntsako is from a small town, Giyani, in Limpopo. She obtained her BSc. In Chemistry and Applied Chemistry from Wits and currently hold an internship under the Sensors Unit. Here she focuses on the production of screen-printed electrodes and the synthesis and characterisation of various nanoparticles (CuO, Cu, Au, Au+Ag, Cu+Au).
We asked her how she ended up at Mintek, her experience thus far and what she plans for the future.
How did you end up at Mintek? “I was studying mostly for the knowledge to open my own business. I went to a career exhibition, where I got Dominic’s email from Mintek. I submitted an application form and received a call form Dominic for an interview. Two days later, I had the internship!”
How have you experienced your interaction Mintek? “I have learned a lot, the people are nice, I have a mentor (Sibu) and I have learned to interact with different people. Technically I have learned a large number of techniques, including Electrospinning, TEM, Zeta, UV, FTIR and nanomaterial synthesis.”
What are your plans for the future? “I plan to do an engineering and business admin course, for the diversity, I easily get bored of doing one thing; An Engineering honors; for a job (she giggles)…
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? “Contributing in research innovation and commertialisation; Application of nanomaterials in the bigger scale, like the energy sector; So many things…
Watch this space for interesting insites into the lives of the NIC node students...
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