From the President’s desk
3rd Quarter 2014, SAFPA
For this issue, Motion Control interviewed SAFPA’s new president, Eugene Tondolo to get to know him a bit more and find out about his plans for SAFPA.
Eugene has been with Axiom Hydraulics for the last seven years where he has been exposed to all sides of the business. Before that he spent some time with Elite Mining in the mining transportation area. He holds a BIng Mech Eng from UJ. He has also lectured at UJ and has been external examiner for fourth year theses. He is married to Gina. His passion for triathlons keeps him busy out of working hours and he also enjoys all kinds of shooting, from clay pigeon to skeet to 3-gun – all the disciplines.
Eugene says he has enjoyed seeing the non-business side of the fluid power industry during his time on the SAFPA council. He believes there is a lack of young people in the fluid power industry, and even though it’s a big industry, there are limited opportunities for engineers to further their careers. “Further tertiary studies tend to be very generic, for example the MBA,” he says. He would like to see this changing, with more career-specific paths being implemented. “The fluid power industry has massive scope but we need to take ownership to attract young people and give them opportunities to develop themselves at the tertiary level,” he continues.
A key focus for SAFPA now is the initiative with the Da Vinci Institute. This is aimed primarily at engineering graduates wanting to further their careers in the fluid power industry. Da Vinci offers tertiary management training, and the idea is to take one of these courses and tailor it to the fluid power industry.
There will be a number of basic modules and they will cover technical areas in interlinked topics such as hydraulics, pneumatics, process engineering and process mechatronics. The idea is for participants to then apply these in their workplace. SAFPA already has a framework and Eugene hopes to see a working model with a detailed structure being worked out by the end of the year. The next step will be to present this to Da Vinci for approval and accreditation. “This will be a big plus for the hydraulics and pneumatics industry,” he adds.
To get PrEng recognition with ECSA, engineering graduates have to be mentored, and a big concern in the industry is where to find mentors. He would like to develop a core of people who can help in a structured way. There is a lack of drive for young engineers to register. Meanwhile more and more industries need a PrEng engineer to sign off jobs.” We don’t want to be stuck in a situation where we can’t give industry what is required in terms of certified engineers,” he continues.
He comments that SAFPA has grown significantly in the last two years thanks to the marketing efforts of Mannie Vieira. However, another short-term goal is to get more pneumatics companies and members involved, as there is a perception that SAFPA is only a hydraulics organisation.
“This is a very exciting industry and there is a fantastic knowledge base we need to try and capture and transfer to the younger generation. I don’t believe young people see how dynamic the fluid power industry is, and we can offer them a fantastic career,” he concludes.