National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Dylan Hlamulo Maluleke (studying Civil Engineering)

Dylan Hlamulo Maluleke is from Limpopo. He is studying Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town.

“There is always a choice and you are the only that can make it, so what will it be?!”

Tell us a bit about your school.

My school was a technical high school. It had poor infrastructure, badly maintained equipment and a lack of resources. (We didn’t even have textbooks for engineering graphics and design, one of the core subjects that made it a technical school.) What gets learners through is the hard work that the teachers do to make sure learners understand. At the end of the day they produce a respectable pass rate (100% for engineering graphics and design for many years running – that is without textbooks). My experience there was eye-opening and, despite all the bad things that occurred, memorable. If I could choose a high school again, I would once again choose Thohoyandou Technical High School! The environment at school was not so motivating, with all forms of negativity roaming around the school from smoking, drinking, parting non-stop, and dropping out of school. You name it. To overcome that, I just told myself that I want more out of my life than a few moments of joy that will result in a lifetime of suffering filled with regrets. Having that in mind, I focused on my school work, associated myself with other learners who had a vision, and with teachers as well so that they could help me out when I needed help.

Why did you enjoy science and mathematics?

At around 8-9 years, I started understanding that what makes maths and science different from other subjects is that you just have to have a core understanding of a few basic concepts… with that you can easily apply them to solve literally anything. It also allows you to think creatively and logically. My mentor Mrs Khwathisi TC played a vital role in my mathematics and science journey. She did this through teaching and also motivating me to be my own competition when there wasn’t competition around me. She also encouraged me to participate in mathematics and science competitions to improve and build on what I already had. I think people have a problem with maths and science because they miss concepts at the early stages in their lower grades. This is something which teachers and parents, mostly in remote areas such as the one I come from, tend to ignore and then only make efforts when the child is in high school. This is too bad because maths and science build on themselves, where understanding one stage is necessary to understand the next. If I was president, I would pay strict attention to the development and understanding of maths and science for children in their early grades.

Any tips for learners in Grades 11 and 12?

I strongly advise learners in grades 11 and 12 to practise as much as they possibly can. They should not try to memorise maths and science because you can’t. Rather try to develop an understanding of the concepts, work in small groups of about 2-3 and try and help each other to understand the concepts, and once you do will just walk over all problems examiners throw at you.

What inspires you?

I have a burning desire to reach my goals in life, always reaching new heights, facing new challenges and overcoming them to make me stronger, wiser, more resilient, and taking me one step closer to discovering and fulfilling my purpose in this life.

What advice do you have for matriculants who have to apply for places at higher education institutions?

I would advise them to apply to many institutions as they can. They should also maintain balance and apply for things with different entry requirements, even some which seem as though they are a bit below their performance levels for when the unexpected happens.

Why did you choose the course you are studying now?

I’ve always loved maths and science so as I was I was growing I did research on the careers that have the perfect integration of maths and science. Engineering turned out to be the thing for me. Civil engineering was most appealing due to its very high demand on the market and the fact that with civil it is fairly easy to start up your own company, create employment, develop SA and, of course, make money.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I see myself working as a registered civil engineer with a PhD or two and also running my own construction company.

Understanding excellence

I can say what makes me an achiever is my determination in all I do and never doing anything half-heartedly. I try and always do my best and never give up, even when things don’t go my way. I understand that it’s not the will to win but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference. I think people need to be focused on their goals and give it their very best. They should also associate themselves with ‘mentors’ – people who have walked the specific road before – for guidance and assistance. At the same time, they should bear in mind that their story won’t be their mentor’s story thus they should always follow a path that best suits them.

A message to South African youth?

Life is all about choices. You are the one that decides what happens with your life. There will always be an opportunity and a very sound reason to give up! But it is your call to make – to give up and watch your dreams fly away or to dust yourself off and run through storm and rain till you get to where you want to be. There is always a choice and you are the only that can make it, so what will it be?!

Subscribe to our eNews

Sign up to receive news on what is happening in science, engineering, technology (SET) and innovation in South Africa

Copyright © 2023 All Rights Reserved | National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)