Page 5 - UCT2012 Research Development Initiatives

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Research Development Initiatives
Growing the Next Generation
Faridah Chebet joined the University of Cape Town in
2011 as a PhD scholar under the Carnegie-funded
Generation of Academics in Africa
programme (described
further on page 24). In 2012, she was appointed as a full-time
lecturer in the Department of Civil Engineering at UCT, and
continues to pursue her studies on a part-time basis. She is
undertaking her doctoral research within the Geotechnical
Research Group, whose main emphasis is seeking innovative
and environmentally sustainable solutions to challenges
of ground improvement involving soil as an engineering
In themidst of increasing human population and the resulting
need to develop more civil engineering infrastructure to
serve the growing population, geotechnical engineers in
developing countries, faced with limited financial resources,
continue to search for cost-effective and sustainable ways of
improving the engineering properties of construction soils.
Presently, polymer-based geosynthetics and geofibres are
widely used in the construction industry as reinforcement
materials. The Geotechnical Research Group in the
Department of Civil Engineering, under the supervision of
Dr Denis Kalumba, is undertaking extensive research on
reusing waste material, such as tyre waste, carpet waste,
and plastic bag waste as reinforcement inclusions in soil to
establish viability for use in ground improvement schemes.
These materials are abundant, but are by and large destined
for disposal or incineration and yet their unique properties
can once again be beneficial in a sustainable materials
stream. Investigation into the reinforcing properties of these
materials is being carried out mainly through soil laboratory
testing and numerical analyses.
As a member of the Geotechnical Research Group,
Faridah’s main areas of interest are geotechnical
engineering ground-improvement, soil reinforcement,
and geo-environmental sustainability. Her doctoral
thesis focus is on the improvement of engineering
properties of soils by means of reinforcement, using
alternative materials such as plastic waste. Soil material
is extensively used to build geotechnical structures
such as highway embankments, road sub-grades, earth
dams, foundations, embankments for flood protection,
and slope stabilisation.
Due to expansion of cities, marginal sites that were
previously disregarded due to poor engineering soils
have become prime land for construction and this has
created the need for modification or improvement of
soils on these sites. Soils with poor strength properties
can generally be made into viable construction
material when properly reinforced and therefore
ground improvement is increasingly considered for
many infrastructure projects. To date, a paper on the
research findings was submitted and presented at the
International Conference on Ground Improvement and
Ground Control in Australia in 2012. A second paper
has been selected for presentation at the International
Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical
Engineering in Paris, France.
Faridah believes that the structured training within the
Carnegie Programme has been invaluable in preparing
her for the roles and responsibilities of being an
academic and finding the balance between research
and teaching. As a Carnegie Fellow, she was exposed to
the day-to-day academic duties, taking on a substantial
teaching load and undergoing systematic mentorship
on how to facilitate student learning and respond to
student needs. She describes her experience under the
Carnegie Fellowship as “a journey of personal growth
and continual self-discovery”.
Originally from Kapchorwa, a district on the slopes
of Mt Elgon in Uganda, Faridah attended Makerere
University, where she completed her undergraduate
studies in Civil Engineering. She went on to obtain a
master’s degree in Geotechnical Engineering at the
University of Manchester, and then joined UCT to
pursue a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering.
Far idah’s appointment in 2012 as a ful l -t ime
academic in the Department of Civil Engineering
was a defining moment for her, which she describes
as a “coming of age”.
Researcher Profile
Faridah Chebet